Kanadische Literatur: die besten Bücher aus Kanada – Gastland / Ehrengast der Frankfurter Buchmesse 2020 #canlit



Von 2009 bis 2013 lebte ich drei Monate pro Jahr in Toronto.

2020 wird Kanada Ehrengast / Gastland der Frankfurter Buchmesse: #canadaFBM2020

Ich bin Kritiker – und sortierte und las in ca. 1500 kanadische Bücher. Heute im Blog:


Kanadische Literatur, auf Deutsch nicht erhältlich. #vorauswahl

Gastland 2018: Georgien. Buchtipps | Artikel: Spiegel Online | Pressereise

Gastland 2019: Norwegen. Buchtipps 1 | Buchtipps 2 | Pressereise | Buchtipps Herbst 19


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Catherine Hernandez, Ahmad Danny Ramadan, Kristel Derkowski


„Scarborough is a low-income, culturally diverse neighborhood east of Toronto, the fourth largest city in North America. A multitude of voices tell the story of a tight-knit neighborhood that refuses to be undone: Victor, a black artist harassed by the police; Winsum, a West Indian restaurant owner struggling to keep it together; Hina, a Muslim school worker who witnesses first-hand the impact of poverty on education… and three kids who work to rise above a system that consistently fails them: Bing, a gay Filipino who lives under the shadow of his father’s mental illness; Sylvie, a Native girl whose family struggles to find a permanent home; and Laura, whose history of neglect by her mother is destined to repeat itself with her father.“

AHMAD DANNY RAMADAN: „The Clothesline Swing“

„The troublesome aftermath of the Arab Spring. A former Syrian refugee himself, Ramadan was inspired by One Thousand and One Nights. The mountains of Syria, the valleys of Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt and finally Canada. The epic story of two [male] lovers: A storyteller relays remembered fables to his dying partner.“

KRISTEL DERKOWSKI: „One Million Trees“

„A memoir of what it’s like to work as a tree planter, replanting the clear-cut forests of northern Ontario, Manitoba and the Maritimes. Bleak, funny, brutally realistic, Six Million Trees follows the author and her companions as they battle blizzards and broken bones, through isolation, desperation, solidarity and healing.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Merilyn Simonds, Joshua Whitehead, Richard Wagamese


After a life that rubbed up against the century’s great events in New York City, Mexico, and Montreal, ninety-six-year-old Cassandra MacCallum is surviving well enough, alone on her island, when a young Burmese woman contacts her, claiming to be kin. Nang’s story of torture and flight provokes memories in Cass: Could her son really be Nang’s grandfather? What does she owe this girl?

JOSHUA WHITEHEAD: „Jonny Appleseed“

„Appleseed is a young Two-Spirit/Indigiqueer: Off the reserve and trying to find ways to live and love in the big city, Jonny becomes a cybersex worker who fetishizes himself in order to make a living. Stories of love, trauma, sex, kinship, and ambition, full of grit, glitter, and dreams.“


Saul Indian Horse has hit bottom. His last binge almost killed him, and now he’s a reluctant resident in a treatment centre for alcoholics: For Saul, an remarkable Ojibway man, taken forcibly from the land and his family when he’s sent to residential school, salvation comes for a while through his gifts as a hockey player. But in the harsh realities of 1960s Canada, he battles obdurate racism and the spirit-destroying effects of cultural alienation and displacement. Indian Horse unfolds against the bleak loveliness of northern Ontario, all rock, marsh, bog and cedar.


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Sean Michaels, Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, Heather O'Neill

SEAN MICHAELS: „Us Conductors“

„In a finely woven series of flashbacks and correspondence, Lev Termen, the Russian scientist, inventor, and spy, tells the story of his life to his “one true love,” Clara Rockmore, the finest theremin player in the world. Leningrad during the Bolshevik Revolution, his arrival in 1930s New York. As Termen returns to Russia, he is imprisoned in a Siberian gulag and later brought to Moscow, tasked with eavesdropping on Stalin himself.“

KATHRYN KUITENRBOUWER: „All the broken Things“

„September, 1983. Fourteen-year-old Bo, a boat person from Vietnam, lives in a small house in Toronto with his mother and his four-year-old sister, who was born severely disfigured from the effects of Agent Orange. Named Orange, she is the family secret. One day a carnival worker and bear trainer, Gerry, sees Bo in a streetfight, and recruits him for the bear wrestling circuit, eventually giving him his own cub to train. This opens up a new world for Bo–but then Gerry’s boss, Max, begins pursuing Bo’s mother with an eye on Orange for his travelling freak show.“

HEATHER O’NEILL: „The Girl who was Saturday Night“

„Nineteen years old, free of prospects, and inescapably famous, twins Nicholas and Nouschka Tremblay are trying to outrun the notoriety of their father, a French-Canadian Serge Gainsbourg with a genius for the absurd and for winding up in prison. Nouschka not only needs to leave her childhood behind; she also has to leave her brother, whose increasingly erratic decisions might take her down with him.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Carrianne Leung, Anita Rau Badami, Shyam Selvadurai

CARIANNE LEUNG: „That Time I loved you“ [Short Stories]

„June is an irrepressible adolescent Chinese-Canadian coming of age. The suburbs of the 1970s promised to be heaven on earth—new houses, new status, happiness guaranteed. But in a Scarborough subdivision populated by newcomers from all over the world, a series of sudden catastrophic events show the fine line where childhood meets the realities of adult life.“

ANITA RAU BADAMI: „Can you hear the Nightbird call?“

„Moving between Canada and India: the interweaving stories of three Indian women. Leela, born to a German mother and a Hindu father, is doomed to walk the earth as a „half-and-half.“ and emigrates to Vancouver with her husband and two children. Bibi-ji gains access to a life of luxury in Canada – but her sister Kanwar, left behind to weather the brutal violence of the Partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, is not so fortunate.“

SHYAM SELVADURAI: „The hungry Ghosts“

„In Buddhist myth, the dead may be reborn as „hungry ghosts“—spirits with stomachs so large they can never be full—if they have desired too much during their lives. It is the duty of the living relatives to free those doomed to this fate by doing kind deeds and creating good karma. Shivan is gay, lives in Canada and travels back to Colombo, Sri Lanka, to rescue his elderly and ailing grandmother and bring her to Toronto.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Zoe Whittall, Daniel Allen Cox, Sassafras Lowrey

ZOE WHITTALL: „Bottle Rocket Hearts“

„Montreal in the months before the 1995 referendum. Riot Grrl gets bought out and mass marketed as the Spice Girls, and gays are gaining some legitimacy, but the queers are rioting against assimilation; cocktail AIDS drugs are starting to work, and Eve, 18, is pining to get out of her parents‘ house in Dorval and find a girl who wants to kiss her back. She meets Della: mysterious, defiantly non-monogamous, an avid separatist, and ten years older. From naive teenager to hotshot rough girl, Eve decides her own fate.“


„Set in the late 1990s: the last gasp of a gritty Manhattan. The intense diary of a male hustler in New York who tries to manage his reputation as the city’s porn star du jour when he’s not dumpster diving, or trying to get published. A novel about what binds artists and prostitutes: Cox is a former porn star. This is his first novel.“


„A queer punk reimagining of the classic Peter Pan story: Told from the point of view of Tootles, Pan’s best boi, the lost bois call the Neverland squat home, creating their own idea of family, and united in their allegiance to Pan, the boi who cannot be broken, and their refusal to join ranks with Hook and the leather pirates. A struggle against the biggest battle of all: growing up.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Medina Faris, Ins Choi, Sheree Thomas

MEDINA FARIS: „The Dirty Version“

„Asia Salam is a hip-hop DJ with a drug dealing brother. Temür Mirzaev is a disenchanted hitman. Set during the economic and political upheaval of 2009, The Dirty Version is a story of blood ties that bind and the grey between good and evil.“

INS CHOI: „Kim’s Convenience“ [Theaterstück]

„Mr. Kim is a first-generation Korean immigrant and the proud owner of a variety store located in the heart of downtown Toronto’s Regent Park neighbourhood. As the neighbourhood quickly gentrifies, Mr. Kim is offered a generous sum of money to sell – enough to allow him and his wife to finally retire. But Kim’s Convenience is more than just his livelihood – it is his legacy. As Mr. Kim tries desperately, and hilariously, to convince his daughter Janet, a budding photographer, to take over the store, his wife sneaks out to meet their estranged son Jung, who has not seen or spoken to his father in sixteen years and who has now become a father himself.“

SHEREE THOMAS: „Dark Matter. A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora“

„Black science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction for readers who have not had the chance to explore the scope and diversity among African-American writers.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Emily Saso, Danila Botha, Sophe B. Watson

EMILY SASO: „The Weather inside“

„It’s summer in Toronto, and the snow and ice is relentless. Too bad no one but Avery can see it. Avery remembers the death of her beloved father, the abuse she suffered as a teen, and the religion that tore her parents apart.“

DANILA BOTHA: „Too much on the Inside“

„The sub-cultural heartland of Toronto’s Queen Street West: Four people in their twenties converge with the impossible task of escaping their pasts in Brazil, Israel, South Africa, and Nova Scotia and try to build new identities.“

SOPHIE B. WATSON: „Cadillac Couches“

„A picaresque road trip novel set in the late ’90s and framed by the popular Edmonton Folk Music Festival: Two music-smitten twentysomething women search for love and purpose race across the country to Montreal.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Joey Comeau, Jason Lee Norman, Jacques Poulin

JOEY COMEAU: „Malagash“

„A darkly humorous portrait of a family in mourning. Sunday’s father is dying of cancer. They’ve come home to Malagash, on the north shore of Nova Scotia, so he can die where he grew up. Her mother and her brother are both devastated. But Sunday starts recording everything her father says. His boring stories. His stupid jokes.“

JASON LEE NORMAN: „Americas“ [Short Stories]

„There are 22 countries in the Americas. There are 22 stories in this book. In Nicaragua they keep their tears in jars. Guyana has separation anxiety. 22 stories about 22 countries you thought you knew.“

JACQUES POULIN: „Les grandes Marées“ / „Spring Tides“

„On an uninhabited island, a translator of comic strips lives in the company of his marauding cat and his tennis ball machine. But his boss helicopters in a few solitude-seeking companions—the beautiful and elusive Marie with her flirtatious cat Moustache; the seductive nudist, Featherhead; Professor Moccasin, the half-deaf comic strip scholar; the moody and contradictory Author; the Ordinary Man; and the Organizer, sent to “sensitize the population.” As the spring tides drag ocean debris onto the shore, the translator and his companions seek out their own solitudes in this hilarious philosophical fable.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Antanas Sileika, W. P. Kinsella, Hugh Garner

ANTANAS SILEIKA: „Buying on Time“

„Growing up in an eastern European immigrant community near Toronto: A book, both harsh and sympathetic, about the personal embarrassments we all live through.“

W. P. KINSELLA: „Shoeless Joe“ [Vorlage zu Kevin Costners „Feld der Träume“]

„“If you build it, he will come.” These mysterious words inspire Ray Kinsella to create a cornfield baseball diamond in honor of his hero, Shoeless Joe Jackson. A story about fathers and sons, love and family.“

HUGH GARNER: „Cabbagetown“

„A voluminous tale of depression-era Canada: One of the few Canadian novels published before 1960 that is genuinely frank about sex and politics. Set in Toronto’s east-end Cabbagetown neighbourhood („the largest Anglo-Saxon slum in North America“), teenage characters are leaving school and find paltry jobs. Some turn to crime, prostitution, or wage slavery and others ride the rails, while one cynical social climber becomes a crypto-fascist and government clerk. There’s nothing puritanical about Garner’s novel; in this Old Ontario, people cruise for sex in city parks, drink themselves to death, and lie, cheat, cuss, and steal for all they’re worth. A gang of fascist youths attacks a party of picnicking Jews at Cherry Beach. As literary art, Cabbagetown is decidedly second-tier. But its brutal honesty makes it consistently rewarding.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Claire Mullignan, Lesley Crewe, Suzanne Aubry

CLAIRE MULLIGAN: „The Reckoning of Boston Jim“

„The colony of British Columbia, 1863. Boston Jim Milroy, a lone trapper and trader with an eidetic memory has become obsessed with reciprocating a seemingly minor kindness from the loquacious Dora Hume, a settler in the Cowichan Valley of Vancouver Island. Dora’s kindness and her life story both haunt Boston Jim.“

LESLEY CREWE: „Amazing Grace“

„Grace Willingdon has everything she needs. For fifteen years she’s lived in a trailer overlooking Bras d’Or Lakes in postcard-perfect Baddeck, Cape Breton. Then, her estranged son calls from New York City, worried about his teenaged daughter: Grace finds herself the temporary guardian of her self-absorbed, city-slicker granddaughter Melissa.“


„The Great Famine of 1845 in Ireland forced thousands of people to leave. Fionnuala, 7, travels in a „coffin ship“ to Quebec City. She loses her parents to typhus. Along with her sister Amanda, she is placed on a farm. The destinies of the two sisters are intertwined in a compelling saga exploring the depths of human cruelty and solidarity.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Helen Humphreys, Patrick Gale, Donna Milner

HELEN HUMPHREYS: „The Evening Chorus“

„Downed during his first mission, James Hunter is taken captive as a German POW. To bide the time, he studies a nest of redstarts at the edge of camp. Back home, James’s new wife, Rose, is on her own, free in a way she has never known. Then, James’s sister, Enid, loses everything during the Blitz and must seek shelter with Rose. In a cottage near Ashdown forest, the two women find unexpected freedom amid war’s privations and discover confinements that come with peace.“

PATRICK GALE: „A Place called Winter“

„A privileged elder son, and stammeringly shy, Harry Cane has followed convention at every step. After an affair, he’s forced to abandon his wife and child and signs up for emigration to the newly colonised Canadian prairies: a world away from the golden suburbs of turn-of-the-century Edwardian England.“

DONNA MILNER: „A Place called Sorry“

Growing up in the 1930s, Adeline Beale knows little of the outside world: She believes that everything she could ever want or need is to be found on her grandfather’s cattle ranch, or in the little town twelve bush miles away, a place called Sorry. After tragedy strikes her family, Addie learns that her grandfather too has lived with his own secret torment for more than seventy years.


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Genevieve Graham, Elizabeth Hay, Annie Daylon

GENEVIEVE GRAHAM: „Come from Away“

„1939: Grace Baker’s three brothers, sharp and proud in their uniforms, board Canadian ships headed for a faraway war. Grace stays behind, tending to the homefront and the general store that helps keep her small Nova Scotian community running. The war, everyone says, will be over before it starts. But three years later, the fighting rages on and rumours swirl about “wolf packs” of German U-Boats lurking in the deep waters along the shores of East Jeddore. Then, a handsome stranger ventures into the store. But Rudi is not the lonely outsider he appears to be.“

ELIZABETH HAY: „His whole Life“

„Starting with something as simple as a boy who wants a dog: Ten-year-old Jim and his Canadian mother and American father are on a journey from New York City to a lake in eastern Ontario during the last hot days of August. Moving from city to country, summer to winter, wellbeing to illness, the novel charts the deepening bond between mother and son even as the family comes apart. Set in the mid-1990s, when Quebec is on the verge of leaving Canada: an unconventional coming-of-age story.“

ANNIE DAYLON: „Of Sea and Seed“

„This novel launches The Kerrigan Chronicles, the story of three generations. Burin Peninsula of Newfoundland in 1929. Family matriarch, storyteller, and ghost Kathleen Kerrigan tells the story of her downfall.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Clark Blaise, Ernest Buckler, Sarah McCoy

CLARK BLAISE: „Lunar Attractions“

„The story of a whimsical boy from the Florida backwoods whose shocking sexual awakening propels him into the world of murder and extortion that roils beneath the surface of 1950s America.“

ERNEST BUCKLER: „The Mountain and the Valley“

„An affectionate portrait of a sensitive boy who becomes increasingly aware of the difference that sets him apart from his family and his neighbours: David’s desire to write is the secret that starts his spiritual awakening and the gradual growth of artistic vision.“

SARAH McCOY: „Marilla of Green Gables“

„Green Gables before Anne: Rural Prince Edward Island in the nineteenth century. The young life of spinster Marilla Cuthbert, and the choices that will open her life to the possibility of heartbreak—and unimaginable greatness. Plucky and ambitious, Marilla Cuthbert is thirteen years old when her world is turned upside down. Her beloved mother dies in childbirth, and Marilla suddenly must bear the responsibilities of a farm wife. Her one connection to the wider world is Aunt Elizabeth “Izzy” Johnson, her mother’s sister, who managed to escape from Avonlea to the bustling city of St. Catharines. An opinionated spinster, Aunt Izzy’s talent as a seamstress has allowed her to build a thriving business and make her own way in the world. Marilla is in no rush to trade one farm life for another. She soon finds herself caught up in the dangerous work of politics, and abolition.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Brian Francis, Cory Doctorow, Eric Walters

BRIAN FRANCIS: „Natural Order“ [gelesen, sehr gemocht]

„Joyce Sparks has lived the whole of her 86 years in the small community of Balsden, Ontario. She ponders the terrible choices she made as a mother and wife. Then, a young nursing home volunteer named Timothy appears, so much like her long lost tgay son John. Voiced by an unforgettable and heartbreakingly flawed narrator, Natural Order is a masterpiece of empathy.“

CORY DOCTOROW: „Makers“ [gelesen, sehr gemocht]

„Perry and Lester invent things—seashell robots that make toast, Boogie Woogie Elmo dolls that drive cars. Andrea Fleeks, a journo-turned-blogger, is there to document it.“

ERIC WALTERS: „Safe as Houses“ [gelesen, gemocht: simpler Jugendbuch-Thriller]

„October 15, 1954: Thirteen-year-old Elizabeth lives in the Toronto suburb of Weston. She has a part-time job babysitting an adorable little grade 2 girl named Suzie, and Suzie’s not-so-adorable grade 6 brother, David. Hurricane Hazel roars down, bringing torrential rains that cause extensive flooding. The parents are unable to reach the house, which means the children’s safety on this most deadly of nights is Elizabeth’s responsibility.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Timothy Findley, Robertson Davies, Richard Wagamese

TIMOTHY FINDLEY: „The Piano Man’s Daughter“ / „Die Tochter des Klavierspielers“ [deutsche Ausgabe vergriffen]

„The lyrical, multilayered tale of Charlie’s mother, Lily, his grandmother Ede, and two Irish immigrant families facing a new and uncertain future in turn-of-the-century Toronto.“

ROBERTSON DAVIES: „World of Wonders“ / „Welt der Wunder“ [deutsche Ausgabe vergriffen]

„The third book of the Deptford Trilogy follows the story of Magnus Eisengrim—the most illustrious magician of his age—who is spirited away from his home by a member of a traveling sideshow, the Wanless World of Wonders.“

RICHARD WAGAMESE: „Keeper n me“ / „Hüter der Trommel“ [deutsche Ausgabe vergriffen]

„When Garnet Raven was three years old, he was taken from his home on an Ojibway Indian reserve and placed in a series of foster homes. Having reached his mid-teens, he escapes, but finds himself cast adrift on the streets of the big city. In jail, he gets a surprise letter from his long-forgotten native family. Back on the reserve, Garnet is initiated into the ways of the Ojibway–both ancient and modern–by Keeper, a friend of his grandfather: a positive view of Native life and philosophy.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Michael Turner, Ruth Ozeki, Jane Urquhart

MICHAEL TURNER: „The Pornographer’s Poem“ / „Das Gedicht des Pornographen“ [deutsche Ausgabe vergriffen]

„The life of an unnamed pornographic filmmaker: Nettie, an idealistic poet and the one person with whom the narrator genuinely connects, sees in pornography the opportunity to do something artistic, liberating, and socially relevant. She pushes him to make even more subversive films.“

RUTH OZEKI: „My Year of Meats“ / „Beef“ [deutsche Ausgabe vergriffen]

„A mesmerizing debut novel: When documentarian Jane Takagi-Little finally lands a job producing a Japanese television show that just happens to be sponsored by an American meat-exporting business, she uncovers some unsavory truths about love, fertility, and a dangerous hormone called DES. Soon she will also cross paths with Akiko Ueno, a beleaguered Japanese housewife struggling to escape her overbearing husband. „

JANE URQUHART: „Übermalungen“ / „The Underpainter“ [deutsche Ausgabe vergriffen; gelesen, sehr gemocht]

„In Rochester, New York, a seventy-five-year-old artist, Austin Fraser, is creating a new series of paintings recalling the details of his life and those who have affected him–his peculiar mother, a young Canadian soldier and china painter, a First World War nurse, the well-known American painter Rockwell Kent, and Sara, a waitress from the wilderness mining settlement of Silver Islet, Ontario, who became Austin’s model and mistress.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Ann-Marie MacDonald, Jean Little, Ross Macdonald

ANN-MARIE MACDONALD: „Fall on your Knees“ / „Vernimm mein Flehen“ [deutsche Ausgabe vergriffen]

„The Pipers of Cape Breton Island hide a tragic secret that could shatter the family. Chronicling five generations of this eccentric clan, Fall on Your Knees follows four remarkable sisters across the battlefields of World War I, to the freedom and independence of Jazz-era New York City.“

JEAN LITTLE: „From Anna“ / „Alles Liebe, Deine Anna“ [deutsche Ausgabe vergriffen]

„Moving is never easy, especially when you’re a little 9-year-old girl moving from the tumult of living in Nazi Germany to Canada in the 1930s. And if you’re clumsy and your older brothers and sisters all call you „Awkward Anna“. When it’s discovered that Anna needs glasses and that her clumsiness is actually the result of being visually impaired, Anna’s life changes completely. Suddenly her brothers and sisters see Anna in a new light and try to make amends for being unkind.“

ROSS MACDONALD: „The Galton Case“ / „Der Fall Galton“ [deutsche Printausgabe vergriffen; nur als EBook erhältlich]

„Almost twenty years have passed since Anthony Galton disappeared, along with several thousand dollars of his family’s fortune. Now Anthony’s mother has hired Lew Archer to find him. What turns up is a headless skeleton, a boy who claims to be Galton’s son, and a con game whose stakes are so high that someone is still willing to kill for them.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - John Glassco, Modris Eksteins, Jan Wong

JOHNNY GLASSCO: „Memoirs of Montparnasse“ / „Die verrückten Jahre. Abenteuer eines jungen Mannes in Paris“ [deutsche Ausgabe vergriffen]

„Young, reckless, and without a care in the world: In 1928, 19-year-old John Glassco escaped Montreal and his overbearing father for the wilder shores of Montparnasse. He remained there until his money ran out and his health collapsed, and he enjoyed every minute of his stay.“

MODRIS EKSTEINS: „Tanz über Gräben. Die Geburt der Moderne und der erste Weltkrieg“ [deutsche Ausgabe vergriffen]

„The origins, impact, and aftermath of World War I, from the premiere of Stravinsky’s ballet The Rite of Spring in 1913 to the death of Hitler in 1945. The Great War was a psychological turning point for modernism as a whole: Eksteins examines the lives of ordinary people, works of modern literature, and pivotal historical events to redefine the way we look at our past.“

JAN WONG: „Red China Blues“ / „Abschied von China“ [deutsche Ausgabe vergriffen]

„A journalist and her six-year-romance with Maoism, which crumbled as she became aware, firsthand, of the harsh realities of communism. An eyewitness account of the Tienanmen Square uprising, along with portraits of the individuals and events she covered in China during the recent tumultuous era of capitalist reforms.“

[Auch Jan Wongs Depressions-Memoir „Out of the Blue“ (2012) reizt mich.]


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Mary Henley Rubio, Wallace Stegner, Farley Mowat

MARY HENLEY RUBIO: „Lucy Maud Montgomery. The Gift of Wings“

„A Canadian literary icon, set in rich social context, including extensive interviews with people who knew Montgomery – her son, maids, friends, relatives, all now deceased. [Also:] Her shattering experiences with motherhood and as wife to a deeply troubled man.“


„Stegner weaves fiction and nonfiction, history and impressions, childhood remembrance and adult reflections in this unusual portrait of his boyhood. Set in Cypress Hills in southern Saskatchewan, Stegner’s family homesteaded from 1914 to 1920, Stegner brings to life the pioneer community and the magnificent landscape.“

FARLEY MOWAT: „No Man’s River“

„An Arctic tale chronicling Mowat’s life among Metis trappers and native people as they struggle to eke out a living in a brutal environment. In the spring of 1947, Mowat joined a scientific expedition. In the remote reaches of Manitoba, he witnessed an Eskimo population ravaged by starvation and disease brought about by the white man.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Richard Gwyn, Janet Lunn, Pierre Berton 1812

RICHARD GWYN: „Nation Maker“

„Canada’s first and most important prime minister is the man who made Confederation happen. This is book 2 of his biography: From Confederation Day in 1867, where this volume picks up, Macdonald faced constant crises, from Louis Riel’s two rebellions through to his quest to find the spine of the nation: the railroad that would link east to west. Macdonald marries for the second time and deals with the birth of a disabled child.“

JANET LUNN: „The Story of Canada“ [illustriertes Jugendbuch ab ca. 10]

„The country’s story, told through rich narrative, recreations of daily life, folk tales and fascinating facts.“

PIERRE BERTON: „War of 1812“

„Pierre Berton’s two groundbreaking books: The Invasion of Canada shows the war’s first year. In Flames Across the Border, Berton evocates the muddy fields, the frozen forests and the ominous waters where men fought and died. The early, bloody conflict between the two emerging nations of North America“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Pierre Berton Klondike, Gread Depression, Laura Beatrice Berton

PIERRE BERTON: „Klondike. The last great Gold Rush: 1896 – 1899“

With the building of the railroad and the settlement of the plains, the North West was opening up. The Klondike stampede was a wild interlude in the epic story of western development, and here are its dramatic tales of hardship, heroism, and villainy. We meet Swiftwater Bill Gates, who bathed in champagne; Silent Sam Bonnifield, who lost and won back a hotel in a poker game; dance-hall queens, paupers turned millionaires, missionaries and entrepreneurs. Berton contrasts the lawless frontier life on the American side of the border to the relative safety of Dawson City.

LAURA BEATRICE BERTON: „I married the Klondike“

„In 1907, Laura Beatrice Berton, a 29-year-old kindergarten teacher, left her comfortable life in Toronto to teach in a Yukon mining town. She fell in love with the North–and with a northerner–and made Dawson City her home for the next 25 years. She quickly discovered why the town was nicknamed the „Paris of the North.“ Although the gold rush was over, the townsfolk still clung to the lavishness of the city’s golden era. While thousands of people left the Klondike each October on the „last boat out“ and Dawson City slowly decayed around her, the author remained true to her northern home.“

PIERRE BERTON: „The Great Depression“

„Over 1.5 million Canadians were on relief, one in five was a public dependant, and 70,000 young men travelled like hoboes. Ordinary citizens were rioting in the streets, but their demonstrations met with indifference, and dissidents were jailed. It began with the stock market crash of 1929 and ended with the Second World War. The Regina Riot, the Great Birth Control Trial, the black blizzards of the dust bowl and the rise of Social Credit. Berton proves that Canada’s political leaders failed to take the bold steps necessary to deal with the mass unemployment, drought and despair. A child of the era, Berton writes passionately of people starving in the midst of plenty.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Pierre Berton, Barry Broadfoot, Mark Sakamoto

PIERRE BERTON: „Marching as to War. Canada’s turbulent Years 1899 – 1953“

„Canada’s twentieth century can be divided roughly into two halves: All the wars and all the unnecessary battles in which Canadian youth was squandered belong to the first. The first war of the century took Canadian soldiers to South Africa, and the last sent them to Korea. Nowadays, Canadians are proud of their role as Peacekeepers. Berton traces how one war led to the next.“

BARRY BROADFOOT: „Ten Lost Years. 1929 – 1939: Memories of Canadians who survived the Depression“

„Hundreds of ordinary Canadians tell their own stories in their own words, and the impact is astonishing. One story tells how rape by the boss was part of a waitress’s job. Other stories show Saskatchewan families watching their farms turn into deserts. A portrait of the era before Canada had a social safety net.“

MARK SAKAMOTO: „Forgiveness“

„When the Second World War broke out, Mitsue Sakamoto and her family felt their pleasant life in Vancouver starting to fade away after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Mitsue and her family were ordered out of their home and were packed off to a work farm in rural Alberta. The Sakamotos lost everything when the community centre housing their possessions was burned to the ground, and the $25 compensation from the government meant they had no choice but to start again. [In a parallel narrative, a Canadian soldier becomes a prisoner of war in Japan. Mitsue is Mark’s grandmother, the soldier is Mark’s grandfather.]“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Thomas King, Peter Collings, Darrell Dennis

THOMAS KING: „The inconvenient Indian“

„What does it mean to be “Indian” in North America? King refashions old stories about historical events and figures, takes a sideways look at film and pop culture, relates his own complex experiences with activism, and articulates a deep and revolutionary understanding of the cumulative effects of ever-shifting laws and treaties on Native peoples and lands.“

PETER COLLINGS: „Becoming Inummarik. Men’s Lives in an Inuit Community.“

„What does it mean to become a man in the Arctic today? The lives of the first generation of men born and raised primarily in permanent settlements: Forced to balance the difficulties of schooling, jobs, and money that are a part of village life with the conflicting demands of older generations and subsistence hunting, these men struggle to chart their life course and become inummariit – genuine people. Inuit men who are no longer youths, but not yet elders. Based on over twenty years of research conducted in Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories. He also reflects on the ethics of immersive anthropological research, the difficulties of balancing professional and personal relationships, and the nature of knowledge in Inuit culture.“

DARRELL DENNIS: „Peace Pipe Dreams. The Truth about Lies about Indians“

„Dennis is a stereotype-busting, politically incorrect Native American / Aboriginal / Shuswap (Only he’s allowed to call himself an “Indian.” Maybe. Under some circumstances). He looks at European-Native interactions in North America from the moment of first contact, discussing the fur trade, treaty-signing and the implementation of residential schools. Dennis explains why Native people aren’t genetically any more predisposed to become alcoholics than Caucasians; that Native religion doesn’t consist of worshipping rocks or conversing with animals; and that tax exemptions are so limited and confusing that many people don’t even bother.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - James Daschuk, Alexandra Shimo, Lee Maracle

JAMES DASCHUK: „Clearing the Plains. Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life“

„The roles that Old World diseases, climate, and, most disturbingly, Canadian politics—the politics of ethnocide—played in the deaths and subjugation of thousands of aboriginal people in the realization of Sir John A. Macdonald’s “National Dream.” The lingering racism and misunderstanding permeates the national consciousness to this day.“

ALEXANDRA SHIMO: „Invisible North. The Search for Answers on a troubled Reserve“

„Freelance journalist Alexandra Shimo arrives in Kashechewan, a northern Ontario reserve, to investigate rumours of a fabricated water crisis. She finds herself drawn into the troubles of the reserve. Unable to cope with the desperate conditions, she begins to fall apart. Part memoir, part history of the Canadian reserves, including the suicide crises, murdered and missing indigenous women and girls, Treaty rights, First Nations sovereignty, and deep poverty.“

LEE MARACLE: „My Conversations with Canadians“

„Harkening back to her first book tour at the age of 26 (for the autobiographical novel Bobbi Lee: Indian Rebel), First Nations leader, woman, mother and grandmother Lee Maracle thinks about the threads that keep Canadians tied together as a nation–and also, at times, threaten to pull us apart.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Tanya Talaga, Harold R. Johnson

TANYA TALAGA: „Seven fallen Feathers. Racism, Death, and hard Truths in a Northern City“

„In 1966, twelve-year-old Chanie Wenjack froze to death on the railway tracks after running away from residential school. More than a quarter of a century later, from 2000 to 2011, seven Indigenous high school students died in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The seven were hundreds of miles away from their families, forced to leave home and live in a foreign and unwelcoming city. Investigative journalist Tanya Talaga delves into the history of this small northern city that has come to manifest Canada’s long struggle with human rights violations against Indigenous communities.“

TANYA TALAGA: „All our Relations“

„The alarming rise of youth suicide in Indigenous communities in Canada and beyond. The violent separation of Peoples from the land, the separation of families, and the separation of individuals from traditional ways of life — all of which has culminated in a spiritual separation that has had an enduring impact on generations of Indigenous children. But, Talaga reminds us, First Peoples also share a history of resistance, resilience, and civil rights activism, from the Occupation of Alcatraz led by the Indians of All Tribes, to the Northern Ontario Stirland Lake Quiet Riot, to the Standing Rock protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline.“

HAROLD R. JOHNSON: „Firewater. How Alcohol is killing my People (and yours)“

„Alcohol─its history, the myths surrounding it, and its devasting impact on Indigenous people. Drawing on his years of experience as a Crown Prosecutor in Treaty 6 territory, Harold Johnson challenges readers to change the story we tell ourselves about the drink. Confronting the harmful stereotype of the „lazy, drunken Indian,“ and rejecting medical, social and psychological explanations of the roots of alcoholism, Johnson cries out for solutions.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Robyn Maynard, Kamal Al-Solaylee, Lawrence Hill

ROBYN MAYNARD: „Policing Black Lives. State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present“

„Behind Canada’s veneer of multiculturalism and tolerance, Maynard traces the violent realities of anti-blackness from the slave ships to prisons, classrooms and beyond: Nearly 400 years of state-sanctioned surveillance, criminalization and punishment of Black lives in Canada, the state’s role in perpetuating contemporary Black poverty and unemployment, racial profiling, incarceration, immigration detention, deportation, exploitative migrant labour practices, disproportionate child removal and low graduation rates.“

KAMAL AL-SOLAYLEE: „Brown. What being Brown in the World today means (to everyone)“

„The in-between space that brown people occupy in today’s world: on the cusp of whiteness and the edge of blackness. Stories from the United Arab Emirates, the Philippines, the US, Britain, Trinidad, France, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Qatar and Canada. Al-Solaylee also reflects on his own identity and experiences as a brown-skinned person who grew up with images of whiteness as the only indicators of beauty and success.“

LAWRENCE HILL: „Black Berry, Sweet Juice. On Being Black and White in Canada“

„Hill movingly reveals his struggle to understand his own personal and racial identity. Raised by human rights activist parents in a predominantly white Ontario suburb, Hill describes the ambiguity involved in searching for his identity – an especially complex and difficult journey in a country that prefers to see him as neither black nor white.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Arlene Chan, How Toronto got Queer, B. Denham Jolly

ARLENE CHAN: „The Chinese in Toronto from 1878: From outside to inside the Circle“

„The modest beginnings of the Chinese in Toronto and the development of Chinatown is largely due to the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885. No longer requiring the services of the Chinese labourers, a hostile British Columbia sent them eastward in search of employment. In 1894 Toronto’s Chinese population numbered fifty. Today, no less than seven Chinatowns serve what has become the second-largest visible minority in the city, with a population of half a million. Their lives are a vibrant part of the diverse mosaic that makes Toronto one of the most multicultural cities in the world.“

JOHN LORINC: „Any other way. How Toronto got queer“

„Community networks have transformed Toronto from a place of churches and conservative mores into a city that has consistently led the way in queer activism. Includes chapters on: Oscar Wilde’s trip to Toronto; early cruising areas; bath house raids; LBGT-police conflicts; Jackie Shane, the trans R&B singer who performed in drag in both Toronto and Los Angeles, and gained international fame with her 1962 chart-topping single, ‘Any Other Way.“

B. DENHAM JOLLY: „In the Black. My Life“

„Black Canadians have faced systematic discrimination. Jolly arrived from Jamaica to attend university in the mid-1950s and worked as a high school teacher before going into the nursing and retirement home business. Though he was ultimately successful in his business ventures, Jolly faced both overt and covert discrimination, which led him into social activism. He tells the story of a generation of activists who worked to reshape the country into a more open and just society.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Wayne Reeves, Christina Palassio, John Sewell, Juan Butler


„Cut by a network of deep ravines and fronting on a Great Lake, Toronto is dominated by water. Thirty contributors examine the ever-changing interplay between nature and culture.“

JOHN SEWELL: „How we changed Toronto, 1969 to 1980“

„By the mid-1960s Toronto was well on its way to becoming Canada’s largest and most powerful city. City officials were cheerleaders for unrestricted growth. All this „progress“ had a price. Heritage buildings were disappearing. Whole neighbourhoods were being destroyed — by city hall itself. Many idealistic, young Torontonians didn’t like what they saw. Recently graduated lawyer John Sewell was one of many. Some were saving Toronto’s Old City Hall from demolition. 12 years when Toronto developed a whole new approach to city government, civic engagement, and planning policies. Sewell went from activist organizer, to high-profile opposition politician, to Toronto’s mayor. Race relations, attitudes toward the LGBT community, and the role of police: His defeat in the city’s 1980 election marked the end of a decade of dramatic transformation.“

JUAN BUTLER: „Cabbagetown Diary. A Documentary“

A novel taking the form of a diary written by a disaffected young Toronto bartender, Michael, over the course of his four-month liaison with Terry, a naive teenager who is new to the city. Michael introduces her to his his inner-city haunts, to drink and drugs, and to nihilist politics.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Shawn Micallef, Stroll, Frontier City, The Trouble with Brunch

SHAWN MICALLEF: „Stroll. Psychogeographic Walking Tours of Toronto“ [gelesen; gemocht.]

„Glass skyscrapers rise beside Victorian homes, creating a city of contrasts whose architectural look can only be defined by telling the story of how it came together and how it works, today, as an imperfect machine. Micallef situates Toronto’s buildings and streets and tells us about the people who use them; the ways, intended or otherwise, that they are being used; and how they are evolving. 32 walks.“

SHAWN MICALLEF: „Frontier City. Toronto on the Verge of Greatness“

„The civic drama of the 2014 elections: Micallef talked with candidates from all over Greater Toronto, and observed how they energized their communities.“

SHAWN MICALLEF: „The Trouble with Brunch. Work, Class and the Pursuit of Leisure“

„Every weekend, in cities around the world, bleary-eyed diners wait in line to be served overpriced food by hungover waitstaff. The ritual is a waste of time. What does its popularity say about shifting attitudes towards social status and leisure? For urbanist Micallef, brunch is a way to look more closely at the nature of work itself and a catalyst for solidarity among the so-called creative class in a cosmopolitan city where the evolving middle class is oblivious to its own instability and insularity. A provocative analysis of foodie obsession and status anxiety.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Tima Kurdi, Stevie Cameron, Anne Petrie

TIMA KURDI: „The Boy on the Beach“

„Alan Kurdi’s body washed up on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea on September 2, 2015. Tima Kurdi first saw the shocking photo of her nephew in her home in Vancouver, Canada. Tima recounts her idyllic childhood in Syria. At twenty‑two, she emigrated to Canada. A single mother and immigrant, Tima suddenly found herself thrust onto the world stage as an advocate for refugees everywhere, a role for which she had never prepared.“

STEVIE CAMERON: „On the Farm. Robert William Pickton and the tragic Story of Vancouver’s missing Women“

„North America’s most prolific serial killer. Stevie Cameron first began following the story of missing women in 1998, when the odd newspaper piece appeared chronicling the disappearances of drug-addicted sex trade workers from Vancouver’s notorious Downtown Eastside. It was February 2002 before Robert William Pickton was arrested, and 2008 before he was found guilty, on six counts of second-degree murder.“

ANNE PETRIE: „Gone to an Aunt’s. Remembering Canada’s Homes for Unwed Mothers“

„Thirty or forty years ago, everybody knew what that phrase meant: a girl or a young, unmarried woman had gotten herself pregnant. She was “in trouble.” She had brought indescribable shame on herself and her family. In those days it was unthinkable that she would have her child and keep it. Instead she had to hide. Her baby was born and given up for adoption. In institutional settings, most of them run by religious organizations, girls were kept out of sight until their time was up and they could return to the world as if nothing had happened. Seven women – including the author – recount their experiences, talking openly, some for the first time, about how they got pregnant; the reaction of their parents, friends, boyfriends, and lovers; why they wound up in a home; and how they managed to cope with its rules and regulations.“


TOM WILSON: „Beautiful Scars. Steeltown Secrets, Mohawk Skywalkers and the Road home“

„Wilson was raised in the rough-and-tumble world of Hamilton -Steeltown- in the company of World War II vets, factory workers, fall-guy wrestlers and the deeply guarded secrets kept by his parents. He built an international music career and became a father and battled addiction.“

BARNEY HOSKYNS: „Across the great Divide. The Band and America“

„Recounts the turbulent career of The Band–Robbie Robertson, Richard Manuel, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, and Levon Helm–from their beginnings playing in seedy bars to their rise to international stardom.“

SCOTT YOUNG: „Neil and me“

„Probably unique in the world of rock memoirs, „Neil and Me“ is a biography of an artist written by his own father, novelist Scott Young.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Nia King, Viviane K. Namaste, Zena Sharman

NIA KING: „Queer & trans Artists of Color. Stories of some of our Lives“ [Interviews]

„16 unique and honest conversations. Mixed-race queer art activist Nia King left a full-time job in an effort to center her life around making art. Grappling with questions of purpose, survival, and compromise, she started a podcast called We Want the Airwaves in order to pick the brains of fellow queer and trans artists of color about their work, their lives, and „making it“ – both in terms of success and in terms of survival. Nia discusses fat burlesque with Magnoliah Black, interning at Playboy with Janet Mock, intellectual hazing with Kortney Ryan Ziegler, gay gentrification with Van Binfa, the politics of black drag with Micia Mosely, gay public sex in Africa with Nick Mwaluko, the tyranny of „self-care“ with Lovemme Corazon.“ [Band 2 hier: Link]

VIVIANE K. NAMASTE: „Invisible Lives. The Erasure of transsexual and transgendered People“

„[erschien schon 2000; teils veraltetes und verletzendes Vokabular]  The first scholarly study of transgendered people—cross-dressers, drag queens and transsexuals—and their everyday lives. Namaste argues that transgendered people are not so much produced by medicine or psychiatry as they are erased, or made invisible, in a variety of institutional and cultural settings. New research on some of the day-to-day concerns of transgendered people, offering case studies in violence, health care, gender identity clinics, and the law.“

ZENA SHARMAN: „The Remedy. Queer and trans Voices on Health and Health Care“

„What do we need to create healthy, resilient, and thriving LGBTQ communities? A diverse collection of real-life stories from queer and trans people on their own health-care experiences and challenges, from gay men living with HIV to young trans people who struggle to find health-care providers who treat them with dignity and respect. The book also includes essays by health-care providers, activists and leaders.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Ivan Coyote, Karleen Pendleton Jimenez

IVAN E. COYOTE: „Tomboy Survival Guide“

„A funny and moving memoir told in stories, in which Ivan recounts the pleasures and difficulties of growing up a tomboy in Canada’s Yukon, and how they learned to embrace their tomboy past. Ivan writes movingly about many firsts: the first time they were mistaken for a boy; the first time they purposely discarded their bikini top so they could join the boys at the local swimming pool; and the first time they were chastised for using the women’s washroom. Ivan also explores their years as a young butch, and life as a gender-box-defying adult.“

IVAN E. COYOTE: „The Slow Fix“

„A collection that is disarming, warm, and funny about our preconceived notions of gender roles.“

KARLEEN PENDLETON JIMENEZ: „How to get a Girl pregnant“

„Jiménez has known that she was gay since she was three years old, and has wanted to have a baby for almost as long. One crucial element was missing in the life of the butch Chicana lesbian—the sperm. This candid and humorous memoir follows Karleen’s challenges, adventures, successes, failures, humiliations, and triumphs while attempting to fulfill her dream of becoming a mother.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Cameron Duder, Bruce Gillespie, Cheryl B. Evans

CAMERON DUDER: „Awfully devoted Women. Lesbian Lives in Canada, 1900 – 65“

„The lives of lesbians who grew up before 1965 remain cloaked in mystery. Historians have illuminated the worlds of upper-middle-class „romantic friends“ and working-class butch and femme women who frequented lesbian bars in the ’50s and ’60s. The majority of lesbians, however, were lower-middle-class women who hid their sexual identity by engaging in discreet social and sexual relationships. Drawing on correspondence, interviews, journals, and newspaper articles, Awfully Devoted Women offers a nuanced portrait of the lives of middle-class lesbians in the decades before the gay rights movement in English-Canada. A world of private relationships, house parties, and discreet social networks. An intimate study of the lives of women forced to love in secret.“

BRUCE GILLESPIE: „A Family by any other Name. Exploring queer Relationships“

„What does “family” mean to people today? Stories on coming out, same-sex marriage, adopting, having biological kids, polyamorous relationships, families without kids, divorce, and dealing with the death of a spouse, as well as essays by straight writers about having a gay parent or child.“

CHERYL B. EVANS: „I promised not to tell. Raising a transgender Child“

„One transgender child from birth through age eighteen. Their son’s desperate effort to comply to societal gender norms, a suicide attempt, a family members struggle with God.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Clifford R. Johnson, Bill Gaston, Howard Akler


„When Harold Johnson returns to his childhood home in a northern Saskatchewan Indigenous community for his brother Clifford’s funeral, the first thing his eyes fall on is a chair. It stands on three legs, the fourth broken off and missing. Memories of his silent, powerful Swedish father and his formidable Cree mother. Memory, fiction, and fantasy collide.“

BILL GASTON: „Just let me look at you. On Fatherhood“

„A tender, wry memoir about alcohol, fishing, and all the things fathers and sons won’t say to each other. Fairly or unfairly, sons judge fathers when they take to drinking.“

HOWARD AKLER: „Men of Action“

„After his father undergoes brain surgery and slips into a coma, Howard Akler begins to reflect on the complicated texture of consciousness. During the long months that follow, Akler confronts the unknowable nature of another person’s life, as well as the struggles within his own unpredictable mind. With echoes of Paul Auster’s The Invention of Solitude and Philip Roth’s PatrimonyMen of Action treads the line between memoir and meditation, and is at once elegiac, spare and profoundly intimate.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Michael V. Smith, David Rakoff, Sunrise Person

MICHAEL V. SMITH: „My Body is yours“

„A novelist, poet, improv comic, filmmaker, drag queen, performance artist, and occasional clown, Michael traces his early years as an inadequate male—a fey kid growing up in a small town amid a blue-collar family; a sissy; an insecure teenager desperate to disappear; and an obsessive writer-performer, drawn to compulsions of alcohol, sex, reading, spending, work, and art as many means to cope and heal. How can we know what a man is? In coming to terms with his past failures at masculinity, Michael offers a new way of thinking about breaking out of gender norms, and breaking free of a hurtful past.“

DAVID RAKOFF: „Fraud“ [gelesen und gemocht; erschien auf Deutsch als „gelogen!“, vergriffen]

This American Life alum David Rakoff’s first essay collection: Whether impersonating Sigmund Freud in a department store window during the holidays, climbing an icy mountain in cheap loafers, or learning primitive survival skills in the wilds of New Jersey, Rakoff clearly demonstrates how he doesn’t belong-nor does he try to.“

CEA SUNRISE PERSON: „North of Normal“

„In the late 1960s, riding the crest of the counterculture movement, Cea’s family left a comfortable existence in California to live off the land in the Canadian wilderness. Led by Cea’s grandfather Dick, they lived a pot-smoking, free-loving, clothing-optional life under a canvas tipi without running water, electricity, or heat for the bitter winters. When Cea was five, her mother took her on the road with a new boyfriend. As the trio set upon a series of ill-fated adventures, Cea began to question both her highly unusual world and the hedonistic woman at the centre of it. Finally, in her early teens, Cea realized she would have to make a choice as drastic as the one her grandparents once had in order to save herself. A successful international modeling career offered her a way out of the wilderness.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - David Blackwood, Jeff Lemire, Hope Nicholson

DAVID BLACKWOOD: „Black Ice. Prints of Newfoundland“ [Bildband]

„Canadian artist David Blackwood (born in 1941) draws epic visual narratives using childhood memories, dreams, superstitions, the oral tradition and the political realities of the community on Bonavista Bay. An iconography of Newfoundland that is as universal as it is personal, as mythic as it is rooted in reality, and as timeless as it is linked to specific events. Black Ice features over 70 prints, accompanied by essays from various disciplines – geology, history, folklore and literature.“

JEFF LEMIRE: „Roughneck“ [Comic]

„Derek Ouellette’s glory days are behind him. His hockey career ended a decade earlier in a violent incident, and since then he’s been living off his reputation in the remote northern community where he grew up. When his long-lost sister Beth shows up, on the run from an abusive boyfriend, the two escape to a secluded hunting camp in the woods.“

HOPE NICHOLSON: „Moonshot. The indigenous Comics Collection“ [Comic-Anthologie]

„From traditional stories to exciting new visions of the future. Claude St-Aubin (R.E.B.E.L.S., Green Lantern), Stephen Gladue (MOONSHOT cover artist), George Freeman (Captain Canuck, Aquaman, Batman), Lovern Kindzierski (X-Men, Wolverine).“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Elsine Will, Ryan North, E.K. Johnston

ELAINE M. WILL: „Look Straight Ahead“ [Comic]

„Jeremy is a 17-year-old outcast who dreams of being a great artist, but suffers a mental breakdown brought on by bullying and other pressures at school.“

RYAN NORTH: „To be or not to be. A choosable Path Adventure“ [Spielbuch]

„A choose-your-own-path version of Hamlet: Play as Hamlet, Ophelia, or King Hamlet–if you want to die on the first page and play as a ghost. Over 15,000 people backed the book in just one month, and it remains the number-one most funded publishing project ever on Kickstarter.“

E. K. JOHNSTON: „Exit, pursued by a Bear“ [Jugendbuch]

„Veronica Mars meets William Shakespeare: Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team in tiny Palermo Heights. But during a party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black. In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person. The assault wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Meags Fitzgerald, Nathan Jurevicius, Elise Gravel

MEAGS FITZGERALD: „Photobooth. A Biography“ [Comic]

„For almost a century chemical photobooths have occupied public spaces; giving people the opportunity to quickly take inexpensive photos. In the last decade these machines have started to rapidly disappear. Illustrator, writer and long-time photobooth lover, Meags Fitzgerald traveled in North America, Europe and Australia and constructed a biography of the booth through the eyes of technicians, owners, collectors, artists and fanatics.“

NATHAN JUREVICIOUS: „Junction“ [(surreales Hipster-)Bilderbuch]

„For generations the Face Changers have made the clay tokens that change the faces of their kin. This month the youngest is tasked to take the ten thousand footsteps to the top of the mountain. Inspired by Judeo-Christian mythology and the mythology of Australian aboriginal tribes, Junction tells a magical piece of modern mythmaking.“

ELISE GRAVEL: „The Great Antonio“ [Bilderbuch]

„What made the Great Antonio great? He once wrestled a bear. He could devour 25 roasted chickens at one sitting. The true story of Antonio Barichievich, the larger-than-life Montreal strongman who had muscles as big as his heart.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Roch Carrier, Stephanie Innes, Terry Fan

ROCH CARRIER, SHELDON COHEN: „The Hockey Sweater“ [Bilderbuch]

„Winters in the village of Ste. Justine were long: Life centered around school, church, and the hockey rink, and every boy’s hero was Montreal Canadiens hockey legend Maurice Richard. Everyone wore Richard’s number 9. When Roch outgrows his cherished sweater, his mother writes away for a new one. Much to Roch’s horror, he is sent the blue and white sweater of the rival Toronto Maple Leafs. How can Roch face the other kids at the rink?“

STEPHANIE INNES, BRIAN DEINES: „A Bear in War“ [Bilderbuch]

„Teddy belonged to Aileen Rogers, 10, whose father Lawrence left the family farm in Quebec and went to war. Janet and Lawrence exchanged more than 200 letters — and Aileen sent her beloved Teddy overseas to help protect him. Sadly, Lawrence died at the battle of Passchendaele. In 2002, his granddaughter Roberta Innes found Teddy and the letters in an old family briefcase.“

TERRY FAN, ERIC FAN: „The Night Gardener“ [Bilderbuch]

„William discovers that the tree outside his window has been sculpted into a wise owl. Then, more topiaries appear: Soon, William’s gray little town is full of color and life. And though the mysterious night gardener disappears as suddenly as he appeared, William—and his town—are changed forever.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - David Bouchard, Jenny Kay Dupuis, Kathy Kacer, David Alexander Robertson

DAVID BOUCHARD: „If you’re not from the Prairie…“ [Bilderbuch]

„A boy. Life on the prairies of North America. The effects of the climate on the people in the heartland.“

JENNY KAI DUPUIS: „I am not a Number“ [Bilderbuch]

„When 8-year-old Irene is removed from her First Nations family to live in a residential school she is confused, frightened, and homesick. She tries to remember who she is and where she came from, despite the efforts of the nuns who are in charge. When she goes home for summer holidays, Irene’s parents decide never to send her and her brothers away again. But where will they hide?Based on the life of co-author Jenny Kay Dupuis’ grandmother, I Am Not a Number is a hugely necessary book that brings a terrible part of Canada’s history to light in a way that children can learn from and relate to.“

DAVID ALEXANDER ROBERTSON: „Sugar Falls. A Residential School Story“ [Comic]

„A school assignment to interview a residential school survivor leads Daniel to Betsy, his friend’s grandmother. At the age of 8, Betsy was taken away to a residential school. There she was forced to endure abuse and indignity.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Julie Lawson, Jean Little, Barbara Haworth-Attard

JULIE LAWSON: „No Safe Harbour. The Halifax Explosion Diary of Charlotte Blackburn. Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1917“ [Historien-Jugendbuch in Tagebuchform]

„Charlotte struggles to find her twin brother after the rest of her family is killed in the tragic Halifax explosion: the largest man-made blast in history until the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. It levelled most of the city, left thousands dead, blinded or homeless. Charlotte turns to her diary to help her cope.“

JEAN LITTLE: „If I die before I wake. The Flu Epidemic Diary of Fiona Macgregor. Toronto, Ontario, 1918“ [Historien-Jugendbuch in Tagebuchform]

„Fiona comes from a large and loving family where she, her older sisters and her mother are all twins. Then, the Spanish flu is brought to Canada by soldiers returning from fighting overseas in World War I. Her sisters fall ill with the deadly disease.“

BARBARA HAWORTH-ATTARD: „To stand on my own. The Polio Epidemic Diary of Noreen Robertson. Saskatoon, Sasketchewan, 1937“ [Historien-Jugendbuch in Tagebuchform]

„Life on the Prairies is not easy. The Great Depression has brought great hardship. Noreen, like hundreds of other young Canadians, contracts polio and is placed in an isolation ward, unable to move her legs. After a few weeks she gains partial recovery, but her family makes the painful decision to send her to a hospital far away for further treatment. Adjustment to life in a wheelchair and on crutches; and ultimately, the emotional and physical hurdles she must face when she returns home.“


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PHILIP ROY: „Blood Brothers in Louisbourg“ [Jugendbuch]

„As the son of an officer, Jacques was expected to pursue a career in the military. In the spring of 1744, at the age of fifteen, he and his father leave France for Louisbourg, the French capital of Île Royale. In the forests that surround the French fortress of Louisbourg, a young Mi’kmaw man named Two-feathers watches soldiers and citizens. He is hoping to find his father who, he has been told, is an important man among the French. Then he befriends a beautiful young French woman. Two men, both seeking to understand their father: Their paths collide during the violent siege by British forces in 1745.“

RIEL NASON: „All the Things we leave behind“ [Jugendbuch]

„1977. Violet, 17, is left behind by her parents to manage their busy roadside antique business for the summer. Her restless older brother, Bliss, has disappeared, and her parents are off searching for clues.“

ANDREW BINKS: „The Summer between“ [Jugendbuch]

„Like his attempts to swim over the dark water of the river that lies between him and the object of his affections, Dougaldo Montmigny, 12, struggles against oppression, homophobia and racism to realise his love for Tomahawk Clark, a thirteen-year-old Metis boy.“


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KIT PEARSON: „Awake and Dreaming“ [Jugendbuch]

„Theo and her young, irresponsible mother seem trapped in their poverty. Theo dreams of belonging to a “real” family, and her dream seems to come true when she is mysteriously adopted by the large, warm Kaldor family. But are the Kaldors real or just a dream?“

KIT PEARSON: „A perfect gentle Knight“ [Jugendbuch]

„The six Bell children, each of them coping in various ways in the aftermath of their mother’s death. Set in the 1950s and seen through the perspective of the middle child, 11-year-old Corrie, Pearson’s story illustrates how a rich fantasy life both helps and hinders children trying to cope with loss, loneliness, and growing up.“

BERNICE THURMAN HUNTER: „That Scatterbrain Booky“ [Jugendbuch]

„Booky didn’t know much about the reasons for the Great Depression. All she knew was that she was hungry all the time, that her parents fought constantly, that the bailiff would soon return to evict her family from their home. Christmas would be a time of empty stockings instead of presents under the tree, a time of mashed potatoes and turnips instead of turkey. But Booky’s spunky nature refused to be crushed, even by the Great Depression“


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SUSIN NIELSEN: „No Fixed Address“ [Jugendbuch]

„Felix is 12. His mom Astrid is loving but unreliable. When they lose their apartment in Vancouver, they move into a camper van, just for August. September comes, they’re still in the van. Felix must keep „home“ a secret and give a fake address in order to enroll in school.“

SUSIN NIELSEN: „Word Nerd“ [Jugendbuch]

„Ambrose, 12, is a self-described “friendless nerd”. When some bullies at his new school almost kill him by slipping a peanut into his sandwich. Then, he enters the world of competitive Scrabble, searching for acceptance.“

LIANNE OELKE: „Nice try, Jane Sinner“ [Jugendbuch]

„After a personal crisis and her expulsion from high school, Jane, 17, is going nowhere fast. She signs up for House of Orange, a student-run reality show that is basically Big Brother. As it grows from a low-budget web series to a local TV show with fans, Jane has the chance to let her cynical, competitive nature thrive.“


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CHARLES de LINT: „Under my Skin. Wildings: Book One“ [Jugendbuch]

„Young people in Santa Feliz: Week after week, there’s news of another teen changing shape, transforming from human into wild animal and back again. Josh Saunders is transformed into a mountain lion. Trusting only his best friends Des and Marina with his secret, Josh tries to return to normal life. But an encounter with Elzie, another Wildling, brings him unwanted attention from the authorities.“

J. A. MCLACHLAN: „The occasional Diamond Thief“ [Jugendbuch]

„On his deathbed, Kia’s father discloses a secret to her: a magnificent diamond he has been hiding for years. Fearing he stole it, Kia (16) keeps it secret. It comes from the distant colonized planet of Malem, where her father caught the illness that eventually killed him. It is illegal for any off-worlder to possess a Malemese diamond. Then, Kia is travelling to Malem, as a translator-in-training. She wants to return the diamond to its original owner.“

MARIKA McCOOLA: „Baba Yaga’s Assistant“ [Kinder-Comic]

„Masha’s beloved grandma taught her that nothing is too difficult or too dirty to clean. Now, the fearsome witch of folklore needs an assistant, and Masha needs an adventure. Is she clever enough to enter Baba Yaga’s house on chicken legs, and make dinner for her host? No easy task, with children on the menu!“


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MARGARET ATWOOD: „Survival. A thematic Guide to Canadian Literature“

„When first published in 1972, Survival was considered the most startling book ever written about Canadian literature. A book of criticism, a manifesto, and a collection of personal and subversive remarks. Margaret Atwood begins by asking: “What have been the central preoccupations of our poetry and fiction?” Her answer is “survival and victims.” Twelve brilliant, witty, and impassioned chapters; from Moodie to MacLennan to Blais, from Pratt to Purdy to Gibson.“

NICK MOUNT: „Arrival. The Story of CanLit“

„In the mid-20th century, Canadian literature transformed from a largely ignored trickle of books into an enormous cultural phenomenon that produced Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, Mordecai Richler. What caused the CanLit Boom?“

T.C. TOLBERT: „Troubling the Line. Trans and genderqueer Poetry and Poetics“

„55 poets. In addition to generous samples of poetry by each trans writer, the book also includes “poetics statements”—reflections by each poet that provide context for their work.“


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ANNE CARSON: „Float“ [Lyrik]

„An arrestingly original format–individual chapbooks that can be read in any order, and that float inside a transparent case. A mix of voices, time periods, and structures to explore what makes people, memories, and stories „maddeningly attractive“ when observed in spaces that are suggestively in-between.“

ANNE CARSON: „The Beauty of the Husband. A fictional Essay in 29 Tangos“

The story of a marriage, told in 29 “tangos” of narrative verse: erotic, painful, and heartbreaking scenes from a long-time marriage that falls apart.“

LEANNE BETASAMOSAKE SIMPSON: „This Accident of being lost: Songs and Stories“

„The knife-sharp new collection of stories and songs from award-winning Nishnaabeg storyteller and writer: the fragment as a tool for intervention that resists dominant narratives or comfortable categorization. Blending elements of Nishnaabeg storytelling, science fiction, contemporary realism, and the lyric voice.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Hoa Nguyen, Chelsea Vowel

HOA NGUYEN: „Red Juice. Poems 1998 – 2008“

„A decade of poems, previously only available in small-run handmade chapbooks, journals, and out-of-print books. Hoa Nguyen’s feminist ecopoetics and unique style, all lyrical in the post-modern tradition.“

HOA NGUYEN: „As long as Trees last. Poems“

„Clear-eyed and grounded: What does it mean to be a twenty-first century human?“

CHELSEA VOWEL: „Indigenous Writes. A Guide to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Issues in Canada“

Delgamuukw. Sixties Scoop. Bill C-31. Blood quantum. Appropriation. Two-Spirit. Tsilhqot’in. Status. TRC. RCAP. FNPOA. Pass and permit. Numbered Treaties. Terra nullius. The Great Peace: Are you familiar with these terms? Vowel, legal scholar, teacher, and intellectual, opens an important dialogue about the concepts and wider social beliefs associated with the relationship between Indigenous peoples and Canada. In 31 essays, Chelsea explores the Indigenous experience from the time of contact to the present.“


#canadaFBM2020 Buchmesse Ehrengast - beste Bücher kanadische Literatur CanLit - Robyn Sarah, Daphne Marlatt, Karen Solie

ROBYN SARAH: „My Shoes are Killing me. Poems.“

„Winner of the Canadian Jewish Literary Award for Poetry. Natural, musical, meditative, warm, and unexpectedly funny.“

DAPHNE MARLATT: „Liquidities. Vancouver Poems then and now“

„In her „re-vision“ of Vancouver Poems, originally published in 1972, Marlatt’s additional lyrics trace countless transformations of a West Coast port city – including poverty, addiction, and homelessness.“

KAREN SOLIE: „The Road in is not the same Road out“

„Wayside motels and junkyards, the abandoned Calgary ski jump and the eternal noon of Walmart: Poems that stake out startlingly new territory.“



alle Klappentexte: von mir gekürzt.

Wichtig jetzt – lange vor Herbst 2020: Bücher zu benennen und sie für deutschsprachige Verlage sichtbarer zu machen. Verlags-Scouts? Hier mehr zur Übersetzungsförderung (Link).

Death of a Friend

One day after his 40th birthday, one of my closest Toronto friends was found dead in his apartment.

I feel the need to acknowledge this.

Remember and celebrate him.

And offer this text to anyone who is mourning him right now, too.


s 2013


[S]’s mother just called me and asked to reach out to let as many people know as possible that [S] passed away. […] Sorry to have to let you know via facebook but I wanted to get the word out in the meantime.“


P. sent me this message two hours ago, on Facebook.

But I’ve only read it now – a couple of minutes ago [on Tuesday], 7.10 pm local time, on my laptop, in Germany.

There’s a light summer rain. There are chirping birds. I’m metres from the open garden door, and there are leaves everywhere. In a couple of days, the cherries will be ripe. It’s not hot. It’s lush and green. Inviting.

I need to talk about [S]. I need to talk about this.
I cannot imagine NOT saying / typing something: focusing anywhere else for the rest of this day. I NEED to write things down. I don’t need you to read it.

But I need to write.

I’ve been keeping a diary for years. I filled more than 2000 pages. Back in school, I sometimes spent 3 or 4 hours a night, just writing stuff. Recounting.

I have a hard time processing things while speaking aloud, in conversations: Thinking takes time. Processing and reactions take time.

My personal speed of thinking and the speed of my typing / writing / phrasing things on paper are much closer:

I’m a better typer than speaker.

Once I type, I can think.

So please don’t go „Oh: He wrote a letter!“ or „Oh: He wrote a eulogy!“. I’m a freelance journalist. I’m working on a novel. But what I’m doing here isn’t WRITING. It’s… thinking – through typing. I need some time. I want to get hold of some thoughts. Face some feelings.

I want to DO something.

Find some order.

Focus on [S].

It’s not an effort to construct the best possible TEXT. It’s an… act of writing, to calm my nerves.

In early 2008, I applied for internships at various [German Cultural Offices] in North America.

It was late winter (February?), and I knew that I’d be done at my university [Hildesheim: Creative Writing and Cultural Journalism] by next spring, 2009.

I needed another (mandatory) internship for my degree; I wanted to spend some time abroad; I had been at Cornell University in 2006 for a postgraduate conference on young German literature; I had a vague idea what the [German Cultural Office] does and… back then, I wasn’t too resourceful or aggressive:

I wanted to go. I knew that this net of offices is the ONE place abroad where people who ended up in German publishing usually go. I saw the [German Cultural Office] requirements (good English, some experience with didactics and / or event and culture management) and I knew that I had a vague chance.

I’m using „vague“ here quite a lot. Because really: Everything about my plan to live in North America was vague.

I don’t have older siblings. I don’t know many people who are slightly older than me. In school, I always had HUGE respect for people 2 or 3 grades ahead of me.

I was born in 1983. I’m 31 now. I was 26 when I first met [S]. He’s 9 years older. To me, people of that age were NEVER the ones I find the nerve to talk to / see as equals. I didn’t know why someone 9 years older than me should take an interest in me, or respect me more than necessary, or just… stop his life. Look down. Face backwards. Focus on MY stuff.

People who are slightly older lead different lives and have more seismic and complex and relevant problems; and while they wrestle with their personal goals and relationships and grown-up challenges, I don’t want to be the person tugging their skirts, slowing them down, asking them to explain things to me.

So… no one explained the [German Cultural Office] system to me.

No one explained Toronto to me.

I didn’t have older queer friends.

I didn’t have older intellectual friends.

I didn’t have older cosmopolitan / urban / professional friends.

My [German Cultural Office] application was good-natured, but it was done without any research, networking, deeper plan or strategy: I didn’t know anything. I was too bashful to ask.

The same spring, I interviewed a German-Croatian author of [S]’s age, Jagoda Marinic [Link: here’s an essay I wrote about her work] who had spent some time in Toronto as a guest of the [German Cultural Office] and UofT’s MUNK centre. I liked Marinic a lot, but didn’t want to grill / misuse / instrumentalize her, so I just asked „How was your time in Toronto? I’m thinking of applying there“, and she said „It’s a nice little city. The people there [did she mean the people in Toronto? Or, as I was sure later: the employees of the Office?] are all slightly cracked / chipped, in a nice way.“ [„angenehm beschädigt“]
I applied to most branches in North America (New York, LA, Boston, Atlanta, maybe even Montreal) through their online application interface and just did a lot of copy’n’pasting. Only for the Toronto application, I mentioned Jagoda and that she said that she liked her time there…

and in the end, Toronto was the only Office that replied.

[Later, Jagoda told me that she had heard that I had mentioned her in my application; but I never checked what exactly happened while they considered me as an intern: If the Toronto Office people got in touch with her specifically, and / or if THIS is what made them take me, and / or if Jagoda said something nice, and / or if anyone asked any questions.]
No matter what exactly made this happen:

I knew that I was going to a place where people are slightly cracked / chipped.

In a nice way.

In the 9 months before my departure, I had a lot of Hildesheim work to do (spring 2008). I took another long internship in Stuttgart, at Klett-Cotta (three of my best, happiest months in life so far), and once I knew that I had to be in Toronto in early January of 2009, I planned my final, incomplete / abridged Hildesheim semester to wrap up all my courses, write final papers, move out of my Hildesheim apartment etc:
Autumn was lots of work. While eating dinner, I watched season 2 of „Ugly Betty“ [Link: personal essay on what the show means to me and my writing] and I figured that soon, I’d be a similar person in a similar environment: Slightly clueless, but happy and enthusiastic. A new office guy in a tense and frantic and professional and high-pressure (?) North American office space.

Slightly cracked / chipped.

In a nice way.

I love [S]’s grin. The weird ups and downs of his lips, and they way he can look snappy and sardonic and kind and wise and silly and strong at the same time.

I love how often he’s rolling his eyes.

I love how lots of things he’s wearing always seem like statements. Or costumes. Or little subversive… decoys: He always looked like he was dressing up. Masquerading! He picked things that seemed to state an intention („Look! I’m a leather jacket! I’m worn by snappy people who wear leather jackets!“) while he didn’t state this intention himself („Sorry, leather jacket. You’re trying too hard. And I’m wearing you anyways. You might signal ’snappy‘. But I, [S], will signal the opposite. It’ll be a fun contrast!“)

A lot of people try to fit a role.

Or dress THEIR part.

[S] always seemed subversive in the sense that whatever piece of clothing he wore – checkered shirts, polo shirts, khakis, pyjama pants, jackets, an old „Green Eggs and Ham“-T-Shirt, a new, slighty red-rimmed (?) pair of „aggressive“ designer glasses –, that piece of clothing suddenly had trouble transmitting what it was designed to transmit:
If [S] dressed like a tourist, he was DRESSED UP as a tourist.
If he dressed Canadian, he dressed „Canadian“.
His [S]-ness was stronger than the incidental clothes. The clothes stood no chance. They could not get their points across. Telegraph their codes and signals. They were props. [S]’s [S]-ness outshone them.

And I think he had fun with that.


Trouble is: You can’t see that too well on photos. There, [S] often DOES look like a tourist. Or a dopey, beary Canadian. Or some office person. In order to find an apartment in Toronto (while still in Germany), I needed to create some kind of „respectable“ international online presence that prospective apartment-owners / roommates could see… so I signed up on Facebook in December of 2008.
I looked for the [German Cultural Office] Toronto staff. But the only person with a profile that I found right away was [S]…

a pale, slim, handsome, nerdy guy with glasses (and a boyfriend!), complicated grin, smart eyes. And often: bland / weirdly tourist-y clothes. I had to think of Alexis Denisof, a – rather hot – actor who played a young, dorky British nerd / scholar on „Buffy the Vampire Slayer“ and „Angel“. Judging from photos, I expected [S] to be very smart.

Distant. Professional. And maybe flirty / sexual.

The real person? Completely different – because of ONE aspect you can’t see in pictures:
[S] GETS the joke.

[S] SEES the problems and contradictions.

No matter the scene – he’s not just a cast member: He’s also an onlooker with a lot of experience of the „genre“ and the genre’s rules. He loves Amy Sedaris. He loves David Sedaris. He loves Kristen Chenoweth and aggressive parodies like her ABC sitcom „Good Christian Bitches“. In the beginning, for about two weeks, I saw [S] as one of the „slightly cracked“ and slightly comedic [German Cultural Office] characters I had come to anticipate – angenehm beschädigt:
„Es gibt noch [S]“, I wrote home to my friends after the first week, „den verbitterten schwulen Bibliothekar ohne Bibliothek (na ja: vielleicht 200 einsame Buecher, das Allernoetigste halt), weil dem [Office] die Gelder gekuerzt wurden vor zwei, drei Jahren. Ich weiss nicht, was er den ganzen Tag macht. Die Augen verdrehen und sich von den Kolleginnen den Arm tätscheln lassen.“
„There’s also [S] – the increasingly bitter gay librarian without a library (there aren’t more than 200 lone books, nothing more than the bare essentials) because two or three years ago, there were cutbacks. I don’t know what [S] does all day. Roll his eyes and getting his arm patted by his female colleagues.“

The  core staff isn’t big. I worked there for three months, in a group of the always-same 8 or 9 people. But there ARE lots of (mostly: closed) doors. Lots of fragmentation / individual projects / specific pressures. People liked each other – but no one was overly chummy or personal. A Teutonic atmosphere.
There was a weekly „jour fixe“ meeting on Monday morning where everyone circled around the isle of the tea kitchen, and THAT was the sole moment when I saw [S] and heard him talk and react.
He shrugged his shoulders, a lot. He rolled his eyes. Smiled his smile.
And had his arm pat by ze German Frau Kolleginnen.
It was January. Very dark. Very cold. Flourescent lights. Grey carpet. [S] seemed sad. The place seemed sad. All of Toronto seemed cold and cozy and calm and cracked under all that ice and winter – in a nice, but VERY grey way. John Updike died. The first few weeks, I didn’t have too much to do. I read morose novels by Margaret Atwood.
That suave gay librarian guy that I had stalked on Facebook…?
He turned out to be a LOT more mellow, in person.

Calm? Tired? Apathetic?

It took until the second or third „jour fixe“ meeting that something caught my eye:

When there was bullshit in the room… he sensed it. When someone lied… he knew.
Whenever anyone made excuses. Or tried to fool anyone. Or just used a weird phrase or term or made some silly judgement… HE caught it first. HE registered stuff.
If this was „Mad Men“, he was reading between the lines. If this was „Ugly Betty“, he got the hidden jokes and hypocrisies. It wasn’t „Mad Men“ or „Ugly Betty“. It was „middle-aged German people talk about risk and duties in a small part of a smallish Toronto office tower in Toronto’s rather small downtown core area… while their sole male Canadian co-worker looked for contractors and worked on building a new, more impressive library and calmly did his thing… behind the blinders of his office.“

[S] had worked in New York during 9/11. [S] had been in a relationship for nearly a decade. [S] had travelled the world, read TONS of books, knew HUNDREDS of difficult Germans and their idiosyncrasies and treated them with respect, flair and charm. To me, my [German Cultural Office] internship seemed like a big and exciting new step. To him, it was one of many dark, cold and rather dull Toronto winters that he spent working on getting his library back in shape. Eventually (2012?), he hung a gigantic „Keep calm and carry on“ print over his corner of the office.
[S] saw humour. And excitement. And drama.
Quiet fun. And quirks. And silly nuisances.
But he wore his role, „elegant librarian at the not-very-elegant German Cultural Office“ with the same wink / ironic distance / occasional smart and devastating grin as he wore his clothes:

The [German Cultural Office] wasn’t his life – but something he checked out every day, like a goofy soap opera that he was very, very loyal too – just not as engrossed as the soap opera producers would have hoped. His German was excellent. His assessments were spot-on. He understood this office and these characters and the rhythms and neuroses and fallacies and cultural problems. He helped steer that ship. Balance cross-cultural issues. Keep it afloat. He was graceful and professional and calm and very, very respectful and aware. But it wasn’t his big scene. His huge dream. An exciting part of life that he was excited to have a part in.

After a few days, I signalled that I wanted to work with him. There was no real library and nothing for me to do. But before the end of January, we went to an art bookstore in the Annex that was about to close – David Mirvish Books – and [S] picked some bargain titles (art history and catalogues and illustrated books) for the [German Cultural Office] library.
While we were waiting at a cross-light near the Robarts Library, I worked up the nerve to ask him for cafés to sit and read after work: I had been using a Starbucks at Church and Wellesley nearly every day. „Are there any other cafés that are good for reading? Like maybe… gay ones?“

Did we become friends because we’re both queer? Because we’re big readers? Because we were the lone men in the office? There were TONS of things that made [S] attractive to me: his wit. His calm, civilized, never-petty sarcasm. His grooming and sense of being „proper“ / ordentlich.
He was raised in Saskatchewan, on a farm, and when my ex-girlfriend came to visit me in March, we saw „One Week“, an all-Canadian road movie starring „Dawson’s Creek“’s Jonathan Jackson who’s heading for the Pacific Ocean on a motorcycle, starting in Toronto. The Saskatchewan scenes of the movie feature a stark and calm, no-nonsense, luminous female middle-aged horse trainer who seems to speak nothing but the truth.
[S] is honest. Direct. Aware.
There was no point in bullshitting him, ever.

I met his partner on a Saturday in their condo on Queen Street East. He had made waffles with bacon even though he’s not eating meat himself. There were cocktails. Whipped cream. Blueberries. Two older cats, Kafka and… Tilo. Lots of well-curated books. Pillows. Lots of EXTREMELY well-curated music. A kitchen that was the center of the room; the center of their lives. A Dr. Seuss print. (Or was it an original?). Lots of small, personal, beloved and well cared-for tokens / souvenirs / talismans.
The [German Cultural Office] world and the [German Cultural Office] squibbles seemed to wash over [S]. They held no importance. Here, in his condo loft, EVERYTHING held importance. Everything made him enthusiastic and proud – most of all his smart and calm and beary and nerdy and even more professional and well-balanced and amused-by-the-small-smart-daily-contradictions partner.

We had brunch. [S] and me had occasional lunches. I found a boyfriend. [S] hosted a dinner party for the four of us. His partner talked about „Dr. Horrible“ and Isaac Asimov and the Talking Heads and Lamb and MOMA and Broadway, my boyfriend talked about Matthew Barney, we all talked about Björk, I can see [S] chopping tiny tomatoes. Crushing ice. Frying prawns. Or just using one of these fizzy gas Sprudelmax water thingies to carbonate our drinks.
I think I’ve had 15 to 20 lunches or dinners with [S].
All but once, he paid the bill.
To say thanks, I got him books. He was ALWAYS intrigued and thankful, and nearly always read them soon, and his opinions were surprising and exciting and never quite what I expected.

Since 2009, I have been in Toronto every year, for three months each, early February to the very end of April. [S] got his new library – and it was smart and elegant and well-curated and a HUGE step forward in making the [German Cultural Office] into an inviting and relevant place.
When I was in town, I came back to visit the Office quite often [the young female Canadian office manager, H., is one of my favorite people in the world, too] and met [S] for coffee or lunch every 4 or 5 weeks. He also let me know about gallery exhibitions or concerts or readings or anything Cory-Doctorow-related that happened in Toronto: Both me and his boyfriend are fans, and we NEVER managed to attend the same event, together.

When I asked for gay cafés, [S] was too surprised to give any recommendations (and then: I don’t think there ARE any particularly reading-friendly gay evening places in Toronto apart from the Church Street Starbucks, anyways), but a couple of days later, he gave me a library discard from his stacks: a book called „Secret Toronto“ full of – outdated – Toronto facts and recommendations. It wasn’t meant to be a super-helpful book in itself (too old / outdated), but as a gesture, it made me understand: „This person is listening to my questions and concerns. And if he has input, he will give it.“
He always did, for 5+ years.
Links to articles. Goodreads recommendations. Videos on my Facebook wall. TONS of likes and quick „Liebe Grüße! XX [S]“ comments in my news feed. In 2009, he proofread an English translation of my „I am Clark Kent“ essay for a magazine in the Philippines. In 2010, he introduced me to Björk’s „What is it“ video and I hummed the song all year. He read from my novel and ALWAYS saw me as a writer starting out, not as a dubious person-who-might-or-might-not-become-an-actual-writer. And he knew Rikki Stock, director of the German Book Office, and always told me that he’d LOVE to introduce us / set something up once I was ready.
I never felt ready / accomplished enough.

The most important books [S] introduced me to were by David Rakoff, a gay essayist – and when my relationship fell apart in 2011 and I went on my first date with a new Toronto guy – a fashion journalist and self-professed book lover – in 2012, the new guy said that he ALWAYS carried a book around. „What do you carry around NOW?“ – „I don’t know if you’ve heard of… David Rakoff?“
I loved Rakoff’s first collection, „Fraud“, best, and since my new to-be-boyfriend hadn’t read it, I wanted to buy him a copy before our second date. But then, no bookstore in town carried it – and I was THIS close to just ring [S]’s bell and ask him if I could have his copy for the night and replace it later.
[He would have said yes – but chances are that his copy has an inscription, and is holy to him. So I didn’t ask and, in the end, bought another queer acerbic smartass book instead, Josh Killmer-Purcell’s „The Bucolic Plague“. My new relationship worked fine for two Toronto winters… but when Rakoff passed away that same summer, it seemed like a horrible omen.

[S] liked cruises. [S] loves his family and his energetic young sister, and he loves MY energetic young sister, mostly by proxy / because he knows and loves that kind of sibling dynamic. [S]’s German was great, and he respected both Germany and Canada and their achievements and power plays on the global stage to a MUCH bigger degree than me.
[S] liked gardening and nature and hammocks and casual drinks.
[S] LOVED hospitality.
And if anyone made an extra effort or gave an extra bit of thought or attention, he was the first to notice and applaud it.

[S] loved eccentric TV cooks like the Barefoot Comtessa.
[S] hate-loved 70s kitsch and 70s TV.
[S] shared links to segments of „George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight“ and Rick Mercer’s Grafitty Alley rants / monologues that, to me, made no sense 🙂
I don’t know if he was genuinely patriotic… or just thought that Canada, by and large, made less of a mess than all the other industrial nations (which I agree).
There was an awful lot of loyalty and love for his home and culture… and at the same time, he was quick to say that he „survived“ his super-rural home town. I’m sure that, by that logic, he „survived“ his university time in Konstanz, his 9 (?) years in New York, his time as a [German Cultural Office] employee and his time as a condo-owner on one of Toronto’s loudest and least predictable streets, too.

In 2011, he seemed tired and absent-minded. We saw each other a couple of times – and I attended a great meeting of the European Book Club in [S]’s library, where Erol Boran hosted a discussion on Jenny Erpenbeck’s surprisingly awesome „Heimsuchung“ / „Visitation“ –, but something was off. There were plenty of Facebook chats and comments over the summer, though, and when he decided to visit old friends in Germany in mid-January of 2012, I could not WAIT to pick him up at the Frankfurt airport.
We drove home to my mom’s place. We arrived by 8 am.
My mother had breakfast with us, [S] was immediately smitten with her and the life she had built, and for two days, the two of them had lots of conversations and effortless bonding.
I showed him the empty farmhouse that I use as a writing space, and it was pretty drab (January! German village!), but his first comment was „Go look outside! Gosh: What a great view! And there’s even an evergreen tree! So there’s green even now. You’re lucky!“
[His second comment was „My partner refers to this farmhouse as ‚The Masturbatorium‘ because that’s what we think you’ll most likely be doing here, a lot.“]

My mother, my younger sister, [S] and me had dinner at a traditionally German restaurant in Bad Wimpfen. The next day, I saw him off at the Heidelberg train station – and before that, we had Prosecco at the Rossi. The weather was harsh. The days were too drab. And still, his visit was a big success, and I was sure that this all needed to be repeated soon. In a better season. With more time and energy.
[S] loved it. My mother loved it. They both left HUGE impressions on each other; and since then, there is no message from [S] that doesn’t include „say hi to your beautiful mother / goddess of a mother“.

When we met again – mere two or three weeks later, in Toronto – he introduced me to HIS mother, and we talked about Saskatchewan, and I could not wait to see the whole family dynamic of these smart, alert, charming and no-nonsense people playing out, eventually, at some later, bigger event, down the line.
There were dozens of small future plans:

Once I’m back in Toronto, we NEED to finally visit Bistro Zocalo – your favorite 2012 restaurant discovery.

Once I’m done with the novel, we NEED to raise hell and find me some North American writing gigs.

Once there are new plans for trips to Germany, we NEED to make more time!

Once my Mom can see herself on a flight to Toronto, she NEEDS to say hi!
We haven’t yet watched the Cremaster cycle.
I haven’t met his father or sister.
He hasn’t met the fashion journalist ex.
I got a cold in 2012 and couldn’t even attend a stupid George Stroumboulopoulos taping.

He lent me his copy of Kamal al-Solaylee’s „Intolerable“ in 2013… and I still haven’t read it.

His parter lent me his copy of „Fierce Invalids Home from hot Climates“ in 2009… and I still haven’t read it.
I read and loved „Natural Oder“ by Toronto author Brian Francis in 2012 – and there was no cheap second-hand copy of the novel on German EVER, and I kept on looking every 3 or 5 months, and I HATE that I could not get that book into his hands for 2+ years because it is the most [S]-like and [S]-appropriate and [S]-appealing book that I have ever read.


I knew that there were health issues. It took some energy to ask „What’s wrong? Are you okay?“, and [S] replied „No. All is fine. Just tired.“ But not more.

It took more energy to ask a second time and get the same answer.

I must have asked 6 or 8 times – but it was clear that he did not want to talk about the specifics, and since he was SO happy to be treated like a healthy, energetic person, I just offered help and said things like „I hope you’re well“ and „have a good week!“ in the broadest and least specific terms, again and again.

I still don’t know what was up in a medical sense, and even if I had pressed harder, I don’t think I would have gotten a direct answer.
But then, I ALWAYS got a direct answer if I asked about his outlook, plans, happiness – and for the time being, that was okay: We did not talk about the elephant in the room. But there was TONS of other beautiful and smart and fascinating and darkly funny stuff in that room, and we encouraged each other to talk (and celebrate) THESE things – and for someone you only see five to eight days a year, that seemed… appropriate.

I don’t have older siblings. I STILL don’t know many people who are slightly older than me. And my friendship was [S] was one of the most effortlessly thrilling, intellectually exciting, goofy and well-tempered and mild-mannered and big-hearted and drama-free friendship dynamics I’ve ever had: I felt blessed. Respected. Cheered-on and thought-about. And I NEVER had to question [S]’s sincerity or intention or direction.

I’m bisexual. I’m a writer. A loner. An eccentric. Without a lot of money and without the clearest plan for the future. I might live in North America. I will make it as a German author, eventually. I want to be part of the [German Cultural Office] machine and spread enthusiasm for literature and stories and politics and national identity politics and the construction of „home“, and I often feel torn and homeless myself – until [S] makes it clear that I DO have a home in Toronto. And a home here, with evergreen trees right outside my desk and a goddess of a Mom. 🙂

[S] was sure that I was working things out, and that I’m going places, and that I CAN become a Torontonian or New Yorker – as well as a novelist. He believed in me so hard that I would not have dared to question my energy in front of him: To [S], it was a matter of time. He saw my life expanding. And I hate that he’s not there once / when / if all these things will have been starting to work out, one by one.

Parts of my confidence and happiness are HIS credit, and in so many small ways (his hosting! His wit! His temperance and his aloof office survival skills!), he’s been a role model.
I loved the books. I loved the home. I loved the relationship. I loved the way [S] and his partner celebrated the… quiet dignity that comes from leading a good life. [to quote ‚One Tree Hill‘]
I’m starting to get to know a good number of librarians (…and they’re all pretty awesome!) – but I still don’t have many friends who are in their late 30s or older. And I’m still nervous to ask people who are 3 or 4 steps ahead of me for advice. I’m still afraid to slow them down and bore them. And – this is super-important: I don’t know more than 5 or 6 great queer couples.

How will I live – 10 years from now? How can I be happy – with a woman or a man, but most likely: without kids? What can these relationships look like? What makes a fulfilled life?

I’m high-strung and crazy ambitious. [S] is about balance, awareness and often calls himself a „creature of comfort“. We’re on different paths – but it still is SO empowering and relevant and great for me to see grown-up people who respect each other and work work work work work SO hard on their relationship and their home.

I don’t need caricatures like Cameron and Mitchell from „Modern Family“ when I can see the strains and dynamics and pratfalls and triumphs of [S] and his partner. Not that they over-shared, or that I asked too much: It FELT like it worked beautifully, for nearly 14 years. Seeing that helped me a lot.

In 2008, a viral marketing campaign for „The Dark Knight“ featured stickers, buttons and campaign posters for the fictional Two-Face character: Merchandise / ads that said „I believe in Harvey Dent“. In the movie, Harvey turns into a dangerous, volatile moral monster.

So I’m careful to say „I believe in you“.

Maintaining a life takes effort and energy and hope.

And some of these things – in ways I don’t know and for reasons I don’t know – ran out within [S].

I think this can happen to anyone. Especially if there are medical factors involved. But every time there WAS any energy and hope, [S] created something beautiful. A life that, to me, seemed plausible. And graceful. And attractive. And fair.

Last fall another Toronto friend came to visit me for a couple of days. I left for New York – but she decided to stay behind with my mom, in the village, as her guest. They talked in German and English, and spent nearly two weeks with each other… and it all happened because [S]’s quick visit one year earlier made me believe that – yes! – even to someone who loves TORONTO, even to someone who has COTTAGES and the Canadian wilderness, even to people who don’t particularly love smallish German villages in non-summer months, my family home can be a good place to catch breath. Get some perspective. Rest. And start anew.

Three weeks ago, I messaged [S] on Facebook: „please ask for anything you might need. literally: anything. I’m here. and others are, too. you’re not alone. if you need a time-out in Germany: anytime. seriously. for months, too.“
Two weeks ago, I messaged him again: „please: get in touch if there’s anything you need worked out!“
Three days ago, [S] turned forty. I did not write or message. But my mom did – with another invitation to just come here and live with her.

For years, [S] told me that I HAD to see his family farm in Saskatchewan. And I had zero doubts that this will happen, eventually. That it’s just a matter of scheduling and some elegant timing / serendipity that will signal „Yes: NOW, it does make the most sense!“
In the same way, I keep on telling North American (and Hildesheim / Berlin) friends that if they ever have a breakdown or need some nature or just a quiet place to heal, they are invited to work here, for a while: My farmhouse / writing space is not the most comfortable or complete LIVING space – but friends like [S] told me time and again that, if anything happens, I am welcome on their couch. And I know how much this feeling of being welcome somewhere else helps me every time I feel like I have NOWHERE else to go.
Would I have gone? Eventually, yes.
But for years, knowing that I COULD go was comfort and excitement enough. And by repeatedly inviting him, I hoped to instill the same sense of comfort / security in [S]: There is a place for you in Germany. Always. No questions asked.

It’s dark and clammy. There’s a moth banging against the window pane.
I’m still at my grandparent’s empty place. Six hours of writing have passed.
Sometimes it’s great in here. Sometimes it’s horrible. Sometimes it’s great to be me. Sometimes everything seems THIS close to spiral out of my grasp. I don’t think that this kind of spiralling can ever be prevented. I don’t think it takes much for a life to shatter – and I don’t think anyone is to blame.
This will happen again. And every time, it will feel brutal and senseless and like a tragedy in that old Greece theater sense of „It took SO many factors for this to happen. If SOMETHING would have been aligned slightly differently, everything would have changed.“

A cat just randomly jumped against the window.
Crouched on the ledge. Peeked inside.
I opened the door – but it won’t come in.

I’ll still leave the door open.

I feel a strange and cheap euphoria: It’s quarter to 1 at night, and I made this text.
I needed to react. And I channeled my reaction into something that appeals to my Protestant-raised worker mentality: a task is complete. Something HAS BEEN DONE. Nothing is better. But I FEEL better – because I did something that can be shared.
I don’t know if it NEEDS to be shared. And if, in any way, this makes anything WORSE, for anyone: Please let me know. I’m two steps (and one ocean) removed from the people [S] REALLY loved. The people who FOUGHT for him. WORKED for his health and safety and happiness. I’ve had some meals and coffees with him. I’m a distant, fair-weather friend.
But there was hardly a day in the last 5 years when I didn’t think „I wish [S] was closer. I wish that there was more of [S] in my everyday life.“

And I don’t think there’ll be day that I won’t miss him.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.
If you have an empty farmhouse – or some other kind of open door:
Please make sure to signal that it’s open!


June 18th, 2014

One hour later, PS:

I spent a lot of time talking about PLACES here.
Mainly because that’s how my friendship with [S] worked. He made me feel welcome in Toronto. His Facebook presence and his many likes were a constant reminder that – no matter where I am, globally – I have a Toronto friend keeping a close watch on me, cheering me on. [S]’s visit to my mom’s place / my local village made me re-appreciate the farmhouse and my family’s dynamics. And a lot of the conversation between [S] and me was one of us telling the other one: „You DO have a place here. You CAN come here. You ARE welcome.“
I’m still ambivalent about the [German Cultural Office], and I love that, theoretically, it is a place to connect Germany to the world, and make visitors feel welcome: I understand the big appeal / raison d’etre of this net of open, public Offices all around the world. [S] worked for more than one decade to make these places MORE open, MORE welcoming. That’s a great cause, and a career well-spent.

Much of MY personal everyday blues / unhappiness / sadness comes from being stuck in places I don’t want to live for too long. I don’t make enough money to freely decide where I want to live / make my home, so I often feel like I’m at the bottom of a hole, fighting my way up.
Every time I leave and live elsewhere for a period of time, my self-image and my outlook on life change a LOT. If I’m sad and I leave, the whole chemistry of my emotions changes, and I cannot imagine being suicidal in one place… and then switch the place… and still be suicidal. Since University, places are like lily pads. I need to able to jump. I’m afraid this farmhouse will pull me down if I get too comfortable / phlegmatic here.
But: As long as there are other places, I know that NO weight or ballast that I carry around can truly pull me down.
That’s why these invitations and signals and Facebook messages matter to me. A lot.

But of course, that’s MY life. And MY preoccupation. [S] was sick. Something was up. A change of place would not have been his solution. He had a great home and a great relationship. Whatever made him choose to die was not a lack of… farmhouses or specific places where he’d feel welcome. He KNEW that he was welcome in many places, and he KNEW that he was fiercely loved by many, many people.
I know that MY outlook on life improves (or sometimes: completely changes) once there is a person who says „You are welcome here. Come by. I want you around!“ But I can’t treat every personal desperation with Facebook messages saying „Drop in! Stay as long as you want!“
[S] made me feel welcome. Every year. Every time we met. And that was… incredibly helpful and relevant, to me. For years!

I tried to make him feel welcome. I know he DID feel welcome. But that’s not the solution to his problems.
In the smallest and most surprising of ways, [S] was a role model. Someone who always had my back.
Being his friend felt like a HUGE honor.
Meeting him improved days. Sometimes whole weeks. [S]?
You will be missed. Hard.

s 2013.

[Interview] Wovon lebst du eigentlich…?

ab hier kultur 2013 wordpress


Zwei Kulturjournalisten. Zwei Kontinente. Die gleichen Niedriglöhne und Existenzängste:


Die Redaktion von „Kultur 2013“, dem Alumni-Magazin der Universität Hildesheim und ihrer kulturwissenschaftlichen Studiengänge, bat mich im Herbst 2013, einen Text zum Thema „Geld oder Liebe“ zu schreiben: Herzens-Projekte versus Auftrags-Arbeiten, schnöde Jobs versus Schreib- und Lebensziele, Pragmatismus versus Ideale. Der Text – ein langes Gespräch mit Kulturjournalist / Freelancer / Lieblingsmensch Max Mosher – erschien im Dezember 2013 (Link).


Stefan Mesch (30) studierte in Hildesheim und schreibt heute für ZEIT Online und den Berliner Tagesspiegel. Er wohnt bei seiner Mutter auf dem Land und arbeitet an seinem ersten Roman, “Zimmer voller Freunde”. Max Mosher (28) liefert einem Stadt- und Kulturportal in Toronto seit Herbst 2012 wöchentlich drei lange Artikel über Mode und Kultur. Um Miete und Krankenversicherung zu finanzieren, jobbt er vier Tage pro Woche als Barista. Beide hadern mit prekären Perspektiven – bis Max die Taktik ändern will: ein Facebook-Chat über Ansprüche, Angst, enttäuschte Erwartungen.


[Max] Ich überlege, ob ich den Absprung mache.


[Stefan] Absprung von was?


[Max] Freelance. Freier Journalismus. Die AIDS-Hilfe sucht jemanden für PR- und Öffentlichentlichkeitsarbeit: Pressetexte zu Studien, Social-Media-Zeug usw.


[Stefan] Eine feste Stelle. Wenn das dein Ziel sein soll – okay. Aber denk dran, woher ich komme: Fast alle meine Hildesheim-Freunde stehen mittlerweile im Beruf. Ich kucke seit fünf Jahren zu, wie JEDER ein paar Monate lang versucht, sich als freier Autor durchzukämpfen… und dann “den Absprung macht”. Statt endlich Texte zu schreiben, die er immer schreiben wollte.


[Max] Die Hürden sind zu hoch. Für freie Autoren ist alles zäh und unsicher.


[Stefan] Ich kenne 50 tolle Schreiber / Journalisten. Von denen vielleicht… fünf (!) noch regelmäßig schreiben. Wie absurd ist das? Der Kulturjournalist, der grade am meisten und besten publiziert, kommt aus Toronto. Nicht aus meiner Schreib-Schule!


[Max] Wenn ich Ideen für Artikel an Zeitungen pitche, kriege ich meist nicht mal Antwort. Nach einer Weile hören Leute eben auf, sich anzubieten. Trotz Talent.


[Stefan] Wäre ich sauer auf jeden, der eine feste Stelle am Schreibtisch sucht, hätte ich keine Freunde mehr. Aber dass viele ganz aufhören, zu schreiben? Sich mit Büro- und Orga-Arbeit abfinden? Das ist doch beschissen!


[Max] Ob ich mit Schreiben aufhöre, kann ich mir offen halten. Ich würde vor allem aufhören, meine drei wöchentlichen Mode-Texte an mein Online-Portal zu liefern.


[Stefan] Falls du den Schreibtischjob bekommst: Wie viele Tage pro Woche wären übrig? Für dein Schreiben, deine Projekte? Ein oder zwei? Dann mach das AIDS-Ding. Aber “ab und zu, abends und am Wochenende”? Das klappt bei keinem, den ich kenne.


[Max] Sie bieten eine Vollzeitstelle. Also Schreiben nur nach Feierabend. Aber Stefan? Das ist jetzt schon so: Ich arbeite meine drei Texte pro Woche ab und stehe im Café, für Mindestlohn. Ein fester Job wäre keine Hiobsbotschaft. Viel Zeit für Eigenes bleibt nie!


[Stefan] Dann sprich mit Leuten, die solche Schreibtisch-Stellen besetzen: Haben sie noch Zeit für eine Autoren- oder Journalistenkarriere? Lohnt sich das, langfristig?

[Max] Hätte ich direkt mit 24 angefangen, frei zu schreiben, wäre ich wahrscheinlich etwas weiter. Aber ich wollte den Master, machte Praktika, wohnte daheim… und jetzt, mit 28, will ich mir diese Unsicherheit nicht mehr viel länger geben.

[Stefan] Ich muss immer an Erin denken und ihre Bier-Sache: Das darf dir nicht passieren.

[Max] Ich bin nicht Erin.

[Stefan] Na ja. Fast 10 Jahre lang studiert und jobbt sie auf der ganzen Welt. Jetzt fand sie diesen Brauerei-Job. Und hat plötzlich jeden Tag Angst, dass man sie feuert. Das scheint ein riesiger, persönlicher Kampf zu sein: Sie will um jeden Preis eine tolle Bier-Vertreterin werden. Aber wenn es klappt, was ist sie dann? Eine Super-Vertretin. Keine Super-Erin. Kämpft sie, um die Person zu werden, die SIE sein will? Oder wird sie nur die Sorte Handlanger, die am bequemsten und billigsten ist… für den Brauereikonzern?

[Max] Bitte hör auf, mich mit Erin zu vergleichen.

[Stefan]Okay – aber warum? Du magst sie. Ihr habt ähnliche Wünsche. Ihr seid ähnlich nervös, weil eure Arbeitgeber viel fordern.

[Max] Erin ist neurotisch.

[Stefan]Erin will, dass endlich jemand kommt und sagt: „Auf dich habe ich gewartet! DU hast mir gefehlt.“ Ein Mann. Oder ein Chef. Und tatsächlich kommen Leute. Aber sie sagen: „Ich liebe dich – wenn du anders wirst!“ oder „Pass dich gut an – DANN loben wir dich!“ Ich will, dass Leute anfangen, Erin zu mögen. Nicht Erins wachsende Bereitschaft, für alle genau das zu werden, was sie von ihr verlangen: Hauptsache, irgend jemand lobt sie. Für irgendwas.

[Max] Ich hoffe, von mir denkst du das nicht.

[Stefan]Du bist weniger gefallsüchtig. Weniger willig, dich zu verbiegen. Aber ihr wollt beide passen. Endlich dazugehören.

[Max] Die meisten von uns haben weniger Glück mit Auftraggebern und Redaktionen als du: Wir brauchen feste Jobs, um unsere Rechnungen zu zahlen. Meist sagen wir “Augen zu und durch!” und arbeiten irgendwo.

[Stefan] So viel “Glück” hatte ich nicht. Ich hänge hier in der Provinz und schlafe in meinem alten Kinderzimmer. Hätte ich große finanzielle Verpflichtungen wie ein WG-Zimmer in einer Stadt könnte ich nicht weiter schreiben, jeden Tag.

[Max] Auf jeden Fall würde mir die AIDS-Hilfe mehr zahlen als das Café. Ich könnte eine gute Sache unterstützen. Und notfalls kündige ich eben wieder.

[Stefan] Du hast bessere Umstände, besseren Lohn, ein besseren Alltag verdient: Du arbeitest wie verrückt, um finanziell auf eigenen Beinen zu stehen. Du lebst erwachsener als ich.

[Max] Aber wie lange soll ich rumkrebsen? Ohne Aussicht auf Festanstellung oder regelmäßige Aufträge? Das Portal zahlt 200 Dollar für drei Texte. Davon kann keiner leben. Ich habe keine Zeit, jede Woche fremden Redakteuren fünf eigenständige Ideen zu recherchieren, anzubieten – und wenn die Absage kommt, zu schreiben: Toll: Dann schicke ich gleich drei andere, neue!” Die Zeit und Energie, die solche Pitches kosten, brauche ich zum Geldverdienen.

[Stefan] Meine Regel ist, fünf Sachen zu versuchen. Fünf Leute anzuschreiben. Ich werde erst weinerlich, wenn volle fünf Absagen zusammen sind.

[Max] Du hast neulich zugegeben, dass Redakteure auf den Großteil deiner Ideen anspringen.

[Stefan] Wenn ich fünf Sachen probiere, klappen drei davon, früher oder später.

[Max] Glückwunsch. Dann stell dir vor, du müsstest Zeitschriften, die dir oft unsympathisch sind, ständig neue Vorschläge machen – meist ohne jedes Feedback, immer vergebens. Wenn ich keine Kraft für diese Scharmützel habe, ist der Krieg verloren. Aber langsam merke ich, wie bitter und negativ ich werde: So war ich nie. So ticke ich nicht!

[Stefan] Überleg länger, was DU willst. Nicht, was andere Leute von dir wollen. Die AIDS-Hilfe braucht keinen Max Mosher. Deine Ziele und Ansprüche haben dort keine Priorität.

[Max] Torontos Stadtmagazine brauchen keinen Max Mosher. Flare und Elle brauchen keinen Max Mosher. Niemand will mich drucken – und bezahlen.

[Stefan] Braucht Max Mosher Max Mosher?

[Max] Du meinst: Braucht die Person den Autor?

[Stefan] Ja: Muss diese Person schreiben? Ein Autor sein? Ist das nötig?

[Max] Tja. Das zeigt sich dann wohl bald.

[Stefan] Ich würde am liebsten für sechs Monate nach Toronto fliegen, Privatsekretär spielen und dir Artikel sichern.

[Max] Das muss ich selbst schaffen.

[Stefan] Dann sprich mit Leuten, die für Flare, Elle usw. schreiben und dir Tipps geben: Manchmal reicht Ausdauer. Stehenbleiben. Viele Konkurrenten geben einfach auf, mit der Zeit. Und viele Ex-Hildesheimer sind genauso talentiert als Journalist oder Autor. Aber sie schreiben nicht. Weil sie schneller Geld und Sicherheiten brauchen, oder keine Geduld mehr haben: Ich war umgeben von… Sängern. Viele sangen besser als ich! Aber nach und nach hören fast alle auf: ein Chor, immer dünner, leiser. Mit immer weniger Stimmen.

[Max] Alle hier freuen sich über die AIDS-Sache und wünschen mir Glück für die Bewerbung.

[Stefan] Die erste Bewerbung wird nicht klappen. Aber die dritte. Oder die fünfte. Ich kenne keinen, der einen Bürojob fand und danach wieder (glücklicher!) Freelancer wurde. Trotzdem sind sie zufriedener als direkt nach dem Studium. Und reicher.Vielleicht vermisse ICH es mehr, regelmäßig Texte von ihnen zu lesen, als SIE es vermissen, solche Texte zu schreiben.

[Max] Du glaubst so sehr an mein Talent. Sorry, dass das hier klingt wie ein Streit.

[Stefan] Ich hatte diesen “Streit” so oft: Wärt ihr ab morgen alle Hedge-Fund-Manager, ich würde euch trotzdem lieben. Blöd nur: Wenn DU die Förderanträge für die AIDS-Hilfe nicht schreibst, schreibt sie halt irgendwer. Aber wenn du keine Reportagen, Essays schreibst… werden diese Texte nie geschrieben. Das fehlt. Mir fehlt es. Immer mehr. Und dir?

[am nächsten Tag:]

[Max] Die Stellenausschreibung galt nur bis vorgestern. Sie wollten Bewerber mit IT- und Programmier-Kenntnissen. Alles bleibt, wie es ist.

ab hier kultur 01.


Stefan Mesch lebt seit 2009 drei Monate im Jahr in Toronto, als freier Autor und Übersetzer; und neun Monate im leerstehenden Haus seiner toten Großeltern, in der Provinz bei Heidelberg. Texte unter

Maximilian Mosher schreibt über Film- und Modegeschichte, Politik und Alltagskultur, u.a. für WORN Fashion Journal. 2012 bis 2013 schrieb er 130 Mode-Artikel für ein Online-Portal in Toronto. Jetzt sucht er neue Auftraggeber. Twitter: @max_mosher_

.2013 ab.hier.kultur Max Stefan.

verwandte Links:

Toronto: Restaurants, Stores, Trips [recommendations]

Toronto Beaches Boardwalk WordPress.

For five years now, I’ve spent 3 to 4 months of my year in Toronto (late winter / spring, mostly), and I just returned from another 3-month stay. Now Alex – a German friend of mine – and her partner are in town, and she’s asked me for recommendations: food, activities, stores, trips etc..

I’m not a very activity-minded person and spend most of my Toronto time in libraries, bookstores and cafés. I’m sure there’s lots of cool stuff that I’ve missed or dismissed. For what it’s worth: Here are my recommendations.


There are also many, many cheap restaurants in Greektown / The Danforth.

In 2012, I made another list of Toronto restaurant recommendations HERE.


Breakfast and Cafés:


Snacks and Fast Food:

  • I like Tim Hortons donuts and danishes: their Maple Dip donut, their Canadian Maple dount, the Sour-Cream Glazed donut and the Maple Pecan danish are all pretty good. At Second Cup, I often get a Strawberry Lemonade Fruit Chiller.
  • Mondays to Fridays, between ca. 5.30 pm and 6.30 pm, you can get two boxes of (good) sushi for about 7 dollars at Sushi on the Run at College Park / Yonge and College.
  • Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwiches are pretty good. You can get them in Chinatown.
  • There’s a bunch of good Portugese bakeries at Bloor and Ossington, a bunch of good (if fatty / unhealthy) Chinese bakeries in Chinatown and a famous and well-beloved (expensive!) chocolate maker, SOMA, at the Distillery District. […don’t go to the Distillery District as a sight-seeing trip, though: It’s just a couple of cobblestone streets that will not surprise / amaze a girl from rural Germany].


Toronto Tango Palace Coffee Company, Leslieville WordPress


General stuff:

  • Get a Metropass to use Toronto’s subway, streetcars and busses. A day pass costs $ 10. A weekly pass around 40. A single, one-way trip less than $ 3.
  • Groceries – especially cheese and dairy products – are pretty expensive. But eating out is relatively cheap: For $ 15 to $ 25, you will get a good meal. Most days, I spend about $ 25 (EUR 18) on dinner, coffee and snacks.
  • Reddit has lots of recommendations, a big and helpful Toronto community and will often let you know about smaller / weirder local quirks and events.


Going out / activities:

  • I enjoy watching karaoke at the Gladstone Hotel on Friday nights, starting at about 11 pm. The Drake Hotel is good for food and martini – and has some fun events once in a while, too.
  • If you want to get drunk, I’d recommend bars like The Communist’s Daughter on Ossington or gay pubs like O’Grady’s and Churchmouse and Firkin at Church and Wellesley.
  • Every Wednesday night, the AGO – Art Gallery of Ontario is free to the public. I like them a lot. There’s also the ROM Museum… but overall, they favor nature over culture, and I’m not very interested in animals and natural history.  :-/
  • Theatre is pretty expensive. Still: Get a free NOW magazine or look at the events listings of The Grid to find shows, performances, gallery events etc..
  • Concerts, on the other hand, are surprisingly cheap. I use to find out when bands I like come to Toronto, and I often see smaller, more inimate sets of less-known songwriters at the Drake Hotel Underground stage.
  • There’s a (free) drag show at Woody’s nearly every night, starting at about 10. There’s also Crews and Tangos, a younger, alternative place that reminded me of lots of horrible, sweaty parties in university. Alex? You will like this a lot. Check out the listings at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, too.
  • There are lots of small galleries on Queen Street West, west of Bathurst. Spend a morning / day strolling around there. I like hipster shops / art spaces like Magic Pony, too.
  • Kensington Market is charming and hippie-ish, and lots of friends I took there enjoyed the place much more than me. Same goes for the boutiques and jewellery stores on Queen Street West. One German friend loved the greenhouses at Allan Gardens – they are free and a fun way to spend half an hour.
  • I love going to the Islands: Take a cheap ferry (to Ward’s Island or Centre Island) and walk all the way to Hanlan’s Point. Highly, highly recommended!
  • Smaller and less spectacular than the Islands… so it’s better to do this earlier: Leslieville [my favorite part of the city] and The Beaches. Have a 2 hour walk in the neighborhood, from Queen and Broadview to the Beaches Boardwalk and the water treatment plant where… Miss Parker, Jarod and Sidney live.
  • Don’t get tickets for the CN tower. It’s nearly $ 30, and not worth it. A day trip to Niagara Falls was pretty depressing / disappointing, too, and I would not go there again. [That being said… if you DO go, read this wonderful, depressing book by Stewart O’Nan, about depressed people at depressing Niagara Falls!]


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